CD22, a negative regulator of B cell signaling, is a member of the siglec family that binds to alpha2-6-linked sialic acids on glycoproteins. Previous reports demonstrated that binding of multivalent sialoside probes to CD22 is blocked, or "masked," by endogenous (cis) ligands, unless they are first destroyed by sialidase treatment. These results suggest that cis ligands on B cells make CD22 functionally unavailable for binding to ligands in trans. Through immunofluorescence microscopy, however, we observed that CD22 on resting B cells redistributes to the site of contact with other B or T lymphocytes. Redistribution is mediated by interaction with trans ligands on the opposing cell because it does not occur with ligand-deficient lymphocytes from ST6GalI-null mice. Surprisingly, CD45, proposed as both a cis and trans ligand of CD22, was not required for redistribution to sites of cell contact, given that redistribution of CD22 was independent of CD45 and was observed with lymphocytes from CD45-deficient mice. Furthermore, CD45 is not required for CD22 masking as similar levels of masking were observed in the WT and null mice. Comparison of the widely used sialoside-polyacrylamide probe with a sialoside-streptavidin probe revealed that the latter bound a subset of B cells without sialidase treatment, suggesting that cis ligands differentially impacted the binding of these two probes in trans. The combined results suggest that equilibrium binding to cis ligands does not preclude binding of CD22 to ligands in trans, and allows for its redistribution to sites of contact between lymphocytes.