The interactions of human genotype AO erythrocytes (red blood cells) (RBCs) with N-acetylgalactosamine-reactive lectins isolated from Helix pomatia (HPA) and from Dolichos biflorus (DBA) were studied. Binding curves obtained with the use of tritium-labeled lectins showed that the maximal numbers of lectin molecules capable of binding to human genotype AO RBCs were 3.8 X 10(5) and 2.7 X 10(5) molecules/RBC for HPA and DBA, respectively. The binding of one type of lectin may influence the binding of another type. HPA was found to inhibit the binding of DBA, but not vice versa. The binding of HPA was weakly inhibited by a beta-D-galactose-reactive lectin isolated from Ricinus communis (designated RCA1). Limulus polyphemus lectin (LPA), with specificity for N-acetylneuraminic acid, did not influence the binding of HPA but enhanced the binding of DBA. About 80% of LPA receptors (N-acetylneuraminic acid) were removed from RBC surfaces by neuraminidase treatment. Neuraminidase treatment of RBCs resulted in increases of binding of both HPA and DBA, but through different mechanisms. An equal number (7.6 X 10(5) of new HPA sites were generated on genotypes AO and OO RBCs by neuraminidase treatment, and these new sites accounted for the enhancement (AO cells) and appearance (OO cells) of hemagglutinability by HPA. Neuraminidase treatment did not generate new DBA sites, but increased the DBA affinity for the existing receptors; as a result, genotype AO cells increased their hemagglutinability by DBA, while OO cells remained unagglutinable. The use of RBCs of different genotypes in binding assays with 3H-labeled lectins of known specificities provides an experimental system for studying cell-cell recognition and association.