Lymphocytes are engaged in constant trafficking from the blood into secondary lymphoid tissues, such as peripheral lymph nodes (PLN), mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), and Peyer's patches (PP). The initial step in this process is the binding of lymphocytes to high endothelial venules (HEV), and in the case of trafficking of cells to the PLN, it is required that they bear the L-selectin surface receptor. Using a chimeric protein, combining the extracellular domains of L-selectin with a human immunoglobulin (Ig) G1 Fc region (L-selectin-IgG), we have probed the expression of ligands for this receptor on HEV and in cell lysates. Two sulfated glycoproteins of 50 and 90 kD have been identified in lysates from PLN and MLN, but not PP. Here we show that the 50-kD molecule is secreted in organ cultures in vitro and is present in the blood of normal animals. Indeed, normal serum inhibits lymphocyte binding to HEV by approximately 50% in an in vitro assay. This inhibitory activity can be removed by passage of the serum over an L-selectin-IgG column and has a molecular mass of approximately 50 kD. We speculate on the possible reasons for secretion of a homing receptor ligand.