Sulfated polysaccharides have been shown to inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in vitro. Dextrin sulfate, fucoidan, and dextran sulfate fail to neutralize virions directly, but interact with target cells to inhibit virus entry. Ionic interactions of sulfated polyanions with oppositely charged cell surface components, including CD4, have been assumed to be the inhibitory mechanism. It is shown that the sulfated polysaccharides inhibit infection of both CD4+ and CD4- cell lines by HIV and also that they inhibit HTLV-1 and, to a lesser extent, the simian retrovirus, MPMV, which use receptors other than CD4. One binding site for radiolabeled fucoidan on the surface of human T cells is an 18 kD protein, but its significance is not yet clear.