The importance of sialic acid for infection by avian Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) has been analysed. Neuraminidase treatment rendered Vero, baby hamster kidney and primary chicken kidney cells resistant to infection by the IBV-Beaudette strain. Sialic acid-dependent infection was also observed with strain M41 of IBV, which infects primary chicken kidney cells but not cells from other species. In comparison with Influenza A virus and Sendai virus, IBV was most sensitive to pre-treatment of cells with neuraminidase. This finding suggests that IBV requires a greater amount of sialic acid on the cell surface to initiate an infection compared with the other two viruses. In previous studies, with respect to the haemagglutinating activity of IBV, it has been shown that the virus preferentially recognizes alpha2,3-linked sialic acid. In agreement with this finding, susceptibility to infection by IBV was connected to the expression of alpha2,3-linked sialic acid as indicated by the reactivity with the lectin Maackia amurensis agglutinin. Here, it is discussed that binding to sialic acid may be used by IBV for primary attachment to the cell surface; tighter binding and subsequent fusion between the viral and the cellular membrane may require interaction with a second receptor.