Background Leishmania (V.) braziliensis is a causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil. During the parasite life cycle, the promastigotes adhere to the gut of sandflies, to avoid being eliminated with the dejection. The Lulo cell line, derived from Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae), is a suitable in vitro study model to understand the features of parasite adhesion. Here, we analyze the role of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) from Lulo cells and proteins from the parasites in this event. Methods Flagellar (Ff) and membrane (Mf) fractions from promastigotes were obtained by differential centrifugation and the purity of fractions confirmed by western blot assays, using specific antibodies for cellular compartments. Heparin-binding proteins (HBP) were isolated from both fractions using a HiTrap-Heparin column. In addition, binding of promastigotes to Lulo cells or to a heparin-coated surface was assessed by inhibition assays or surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis. Results The success of promastigotes subcellular fractionation led to the obtainment of Ff and Mf proteins, both of which presented two main protein bands (65.0 and 55.0kDa) with affinity to heparin. The contribution of HBPs in the adherence of promastigotes to Lulo cells was assessed through competition assays, using HS or the purified HBPs fractions. All tested samples presented a measurable inhibition rate when compared to control adhesion rate (17 ± 2.0% of culture cells with adhered parasites): 30% (for HS 20μg/ml) and 16% (for HS 10μg/ml); HBP Mf (35.2% for 10μg/ml and 25.4% for 20μg/ml) and HBP Ff (10.0% for 10μg/ml and 31.4% for 20μg/ml). Additionally, to verify the presence of sulfated GAGs in Lulo cells surface and intracellular compartment, metabolic labeling with radioactive sulfate was performed, indicating the presence of an HS and chondroitin sulfate in both cell sections. The SPR analysis performed further confirmed the presence of GAGs ligands on L. (V.) braziliensis promastigote surfaces. Conclusions The data presented here point to evidences that HBPs present on the surface of L. (V.) braziliensis promastigotes participate in adhesion of these parasites to Lulo cells through HS participation.