The binding site on the human third complement component for bovine conglutinin has been located. C3 fragments were purified to homogeneity by preparative SDS-polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis. Only the N-terminal 27,000 dalton (Da) fragment of the alpha'-chain and the beta-chain were found to be glycosylated, and the carbohydrate was susceptible to endo-beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase H. This finding indicates that only high mannose or hybrid-type oligosaccharide chains are present on the C3 molecule. Binding to conglutinin was determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and occurred with C3b, iC3b, C3c, the alpha-chain, and the 27,000 Da fragment of the alpha'-chain, but not with C3d or the C-terminal 40,000 Da fragment of the alpha'-chain. The beta-chain displayed very weak interaction. Binding to conglutinin could be inhibited by EDTA, N-acetylglucosamine, and to a lesser degree by mannose. Enzymatic removal of the carbohydrate from the C3 molecule abolished binding to conglutinin. It is concluded that bovine conglutinin binds to the carbohydrate moiety located on the N-terminal 27,000 Da polypeptide of the alpha-chain.