Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are highly sulfated linear polysaccharides prevalent in the extracellular matrix, and they associate with virtually all amyloid deposits in vivo. GAGs accelerate the aggregation of many amyloidogenic peptides in vitro, but little mechanistic evidence is available to explain why. Herein, spectroscopic methods demonstrate that GAGs do not affect the secondary structure of the monomeric 8 kDa amyloidogenic fragment of human plasma gelsolin. Moreover, monomerized 8 kDa gelsolin does not bind to heparin under physiological conditions. In contrast, 8 kDa gelsolin cross-β-sheet oligomers and amyloid fibrils bind strongly to heparin, apparently because of electrostatic interactions between the negatively charged polysaccharide and a positively charged region of the 8 kDa gelsolin assemblies. Our observations are consistent with a scaffolding mechanism whereby cross-β-sheet oligomers, upon formation, bind to GAGs, accelerating the fibril extension phase of amyloidogenesis, possibly by concentrating and orienting the oligomers to more efficiently form amyloid fibrils. Notably, heparin decreases the 8 kDa gelsolin concentration necessary for amyloid fibril formation, likely a consequence of fibril stabilization through heparin binding. Because GAG overexpression, which is common in amyloidosis, may represent a strategy for minimizing cross-β-sheet oligomer toxicity by transforming them into amyloid fibrils, the mechanism described herein for GAG-mediated acceleration of 8 kDa gelsolin amyloidogenesis provides a starting point for therapeutic strategy development. The addition of GAG mimetics, small molecule sulfonates shown to reduce the amyloid load in animal models of amyloidosis, to a heparin-accelerated 8 kDa gelsolin aggregation reaction mixture neither significantly alters the rate of amyloidogenesis nor prevents oligomers from binding to GAGs, calling into question their commonly accepted mechanism.