Antisera raised against Rauscher leukemia virus (R-MuLV) contain a preponderance of antibodies against glycoprotein gp70 that are dependent on the presence of carbohydrate side chains for reactivity, as judged by immunoprecipitation or Western blotting. However, the majority of neutralizing antibodies were not dependent on the presence of carbohydrate, as indicated by (i) the ability of deglycosylated R-MuLV to adsorb neutralizing antibody from sera as efficiently as glycosylated R-MuLV and (ii) the ability of deglycosylated R-MuLV to induce neutralizing antibody responses when injected into rabbits. Moreover, a faster response was obtained with deglycosylated R-MuLV than with untreated control virus in the latter experiments. The results indicate that the neutralizing antibodies are a discrete subpopulation of the total antibody response. Furthermore, the carbohydrate moieties appear to afford protection to the virion during infection, rather than serve as a target for neutralization.