Membrane cofactor protein (MCP) has been shown to act as a cellular receptor for measles virus. In previous binding studies we demonstrated a direct interaction between the measles virus H protein and MCP. The binding was shown to be independent of the O-glycans but dependent on the N-glycans of MCP. To elucidate the role of N-glycans for the receptor function of MCP, the effect of the glycosylation inhibitors tunicamycin (TM) and 1-deoxymannojirimycin (DMJ) was analyzed. TM which prevents N-glycosylation has been reported to inhibit the expression of functional measles virus receptors. Here we show that MCP lacking all N-glycans was detectable on the surface of Vero cells, although in a reduced amount. Therefore, the lack of receptor activity cannot be explained by intracellular degradation or defective transport. In the presence of DMJ, a mannosidase I inhibitor, MCP is synthesized with N-glycans of the high-mannose type in contrast to the complex oligosaccharides present on MCP of untreated cells. Both MCP with mannose-rich and MCP with complex N-glycans were recognized by measles virus H protein in an in vitro binding assay. They both could also serve as receptors for the infection of cultured Vero cells, arguing against a direct binding of virus to a carbohydrate moiety within the N-glycans of MCP. We propose that N-linked oligosaccharides are required to maintain a conformation-dependent receptor determinant of MCP.