Cell surface proteoglycans, in particular those carrying heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans, play a major role in primary attachment of herpesviruses to target cells. In pseudorabies virus (PrV), glycoprotein gC has been shown to represent the major heparan sulfate-binding virion envelope protein (T. C. Mettenleiter, L. Zsak, F. Zuckermann, N. Sugg, H. Kern, and T. Ben-Porat, J. Virol. 64:278-286, 1990). Since PrV gC is nonessential for viral infectivity in vitro acid in vivo, either the interaction between virion envelope and cellular heparan sulfate is not necessary to mediate infection or other virion envelope proteins can substitute as heparan sulfate-binding components in the absence of gC. To answer these questions, we analyzed the infectivity of isogenic gC(+) and gC(-) PrV on mouse L-cell derivatives with defects in glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis, using a rapid and sensitive fluorescence-based P-galactosidase assay and single-cell counting in a fluorescence-activated cell sorter. Our data show that (i) in the virion, glycoprotein gC represents the only proteoglycan-binding envelope protein, and (ii) cellular proteoglycans are not essential for infectivity of PrV. Attachment studies using radiolabeled virions lacking either gC or the essential go confirmed these results and demonstrated that PrV go mainly contributes to binding of Pr virions to cell surface components other than proteoglycans. These data demonstrate the presence of a proteoglycan-independent mode of attachment for Pr virions leading to infectious entry into target cells.