The sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea is on the rise worldwide and an increased understanding of the mechanisms of colonization and pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae is required to aid development of new treatment and prevention strategies. In the current study, we investigate the neisserial heparin-binding antigen (NHBA) of N. gonorrhoeae and confirm its role in binding to several glycans, including heparin, and identify interactions of NHBA with both gonococcal and host cells. Furthermore, we report that a gonococcal nhba mutant displays decreased cell aggregation and microcolony formation, as well as reduced survival in human serum and reduced adherence to human cervical and urethral epithelial cells, relative to the wild-type strain. These data indicate that the gonococcal NHBA contributes to several aspects of the colonization and survival of N. gonorrhoeae and may be a target for new antimicrobial or vaccines. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.