Monocyte/macrophage lineage cells are target cells in vivo for porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) replication. The porcine monocytic cell line 3D4/31 supports PCV2 replication in vitro, and attachment and internalization kinetics of PCV2 have been established in these cells. However, PCV2 receptors remain unknown. Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) are used by several viruses as receptors. The present study examined the role of GAG in attachment and infection of PCV2. Heparin, heparan sulfate (HS), chondroitin sulfate B (CS-B), but not CS-A, and keratan sulfate reduced PCV2 infection when these GAG were incubated with PCV2 prior to and during inoculation of 3D4/31 cells. Enzymatic removal of HS and CS-B prior to PCV2 inoculation of 3D4/31 cells significantly reduced PCV2 infection. Similarly, when PCV2 virus-like particles (VLP) were allowed to bind onto 3D4/31 cells in the presence of heparin and CS-B, attachment was strongly reduced. Titration of field isolates and low- and high-passage laboratory strains of PCV2 in the presence of heparin significantly reduced PCV2 titers, showing that the capacity of PCV2 to bind GAG was not acquired during in vitro cultivation but is an intrinsic feature of wild-type virus. When Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells were inoculated with PCV2, relative percentages of PCV2-infected cells were 27% +/- 8% for HS-deficient and 12% +/- 10% for GAG-deficient cells compared to wild-type cells (100%). Furthermore, it was shown using heparin-Sepharose chromatography that both PCV2 and PCV2 VLP directly interacted with heparin. Together, these results show that HS and CS-B are attachment receptors for PCV2.