Bovine coronavirus (BCV) and hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus (HEV) from swine were found to grow to high titers in MDCK I cells, a subline of Madin Darby canine kidney cells. Virus grown in these cells was used to isolate and purify the HE-protein. This protein has been shown recently to have acetylesterase activity and to function as the receptor-destroying enzyme of BCV. Here we show that HEV contains this enzyme, too. The glycoproteins were solubilized by treatment of virions with octylglucoside. Following centrifugation through a sucrose gradient the surface proteins S and HE (hemagglutinin-esterase) were obtained in purified form. After removal of the detergent by dialysis, HE formed rosettes as shown by electron microscopy. The purified HE protein retained acetylesterase activity and was able to function as a receptor-destroying enzyme rendering red blood cells resistant against agglutination by both coronaviruses. HE protein released from the viral membrane failed to agglutinate red blood cells. However, it was found to recognize glycoconjugates containing N-acetyl-9-O-acetylneuraminic acid as indicated by a binding assay with rat serum proteins blotted to nitrocellulose and by its ability to inhibit the hemagglutinating activity of BCV, HEV, and influenza C virus. The purified enzyme provides a useful tool for analyzing the cellular receptors for coronaviruses.