Bovine coronavirus (BCV), human coronavirus OC43 (HCV-OC43) and hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus (HEV) are serologically related viruses that all have hemagglutinating activity. The receptor determinant for attachment to erythrocytes has been shown to be N-acetyl-9-O-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5,9Ac2). We compared the ability of the three coronaviruses to recognize 9-O-acetylated sialic acid and found that they all bind to Neu5,9Ac2 attached to galactose in either A2,3 or A2,6-linkage. There are, however, some differences in the minimum amount of sialic acid that is required on the cell surface for agglutination by these viruses. Evidence is presented that HCV-OC43 uses Neu5,9Ac2 as a receptor determinant not only for agglutination of erythrocytes but also for attachment to and infection of a cultured cell line, MDCK I cells.