The terminal event of spore differentiation in the cellular slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum is the assembly of the spore coat, which surrounds the dormant amoeba and allows the organism to survive during extended periods of environmental stress. The spore coat is a polarized extracellular matrix composed of glycoproteins and cellulose. The process of spore coat formation begins by the regulated secretion of spore coat proteins from the prespore vesicles (PSVs). Four of the major spore coat proteins (SP96, PsB/SP85, SP70 and SP60) exist as a preassembled multiprotein complex within the PSVs. This complete complex has an endogenous cellulose-binding activity. Mutant strains lacking either the SP96 or SP70 proteins produce partial complexes that do not have cellulose-binding activity, while mutants lacking SP60 produce a partial complex that retains this activity. Using a combination of immunofluorescence microscopy and biochemical methods we now show that the lack of cellulose-binding activity in the SP96 and SP70 mutants results in abnormally assembled spore coats and spores with greatly reduced viability. In contrast, the SP60 mutant, in which the PsB complex retains its cellulose-binding activity, produces spores with apparently unaltered structure and viability. Thus, it is the loss of the cellulose-binding activity of the PsB complex, rather than the mere loss of individual spore coat proteins, that results in compromised spore coat structure. These results support the idea that the cellulose-binding activity associated with the complete PsB complex plays an active role in the assembly of the spore coat.