Superficial zone protein (SZP), also known as lubricin and proteoglycan 4 (PRG4), plays an important role in the boundary lubrication of articular cartilage and is regulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Here, we evaluate the role of cell surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) during TGF-β1 stimulation of SZP/lubricin/PRG4 in superficial zone articular chondrocytes. We utilized primary monolayer superficial zone articular chondrocyte cultures and treated them with various concentrations of TGF-β1, in the presence or absence of heparan sulfate (HS), heparin, and chondroitin sulfate (CS). The cell surface GAGs were removed by pretreatment with either heparinase I or chondroitinase-ABC before TGF-β1 stimulation. Accumulation of SZP/lubricin/PRG4 in the culture medium in response to stimulation with TGF-β1 and various exogenous GAGs was demonstrated by immunoblotting and quantitated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We show that TGF-β1 and exogenous HS enhanced SZP accumulation of superficial zone chondrocytes in the presence of surface GAGs. At the dose of 1 ng/mL of TGF-β1, the presence of exogenous heparin inhibited SZP accumulation whereas the presence of exogenous CS stimulated SZP accumulation in the culture medium. Enzymatic depletion of GAGs on the surface of superficial zone chondrocytes enhanced the ability of TGF-β1 to stimulate SZP accumulation in the presence of both exogenous heparin and CS. Collectively, these results suggest that GAGs at the surface of superficial zone articular chondrocytes influence the response to TGF-β1 and exogenous GAGs to stimulate SZP accumulation. Cell surface GAGs modulate superficial zone chondrocytes' response to TGF-β1 and exogenous HS.