Legume lectin stimulates infection of roots in the symbiosis between leguminous plants and bacteria of the genus Rhizobium. Introduction of the Pisum sativum lectin gene (psl) into white clover hairy roots enables heterologous infection and nodulation by the pea symbiont R. leguminosarum biovar viciae (R.l. viciae). Legume lectins contain a specific sugar-binding site. Here, we show that inoculation of white clover hairy roots co-transformed with a psl mutant encoding a non-sugar-binding lectin (PSL N125D) with R.l. viciae yielded only background pseudo-nodule formation, in contrast to the situation after transformation with wild type psl or with a psl mutant encoding sugar-binding PSL (PSL A126V). For every construct tested, nodulation by the homologous symbiont R.l. trifolii was normal. These results strongly suggest that (1) sugar-binding activity of PSL is necessary for infection of white clover hairy roots by R.l. viciae, and (2) the rhizobial ligand of host lectin is a sugar residue rather than a lipid.