Dendritic cells (DCs) efficiently capture HIV-1 and mediate transmission to T cells, but the underlying molecular mechanism is still being debated. The C-type lectin DC-SIGN is important in HIV-1 transmission by DCs. However, various studies strongly suggest that another HIV-1 receptor on DCs is involved in the capture of HIV-1. Here we have identified syndecan-3 as a major HIV-1 attachment receptor on DCs. Syndecan-3 is a DC-specific heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycan that captures HIV-1 through interaction with the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120. Syndecan-3 stabilizes the captured virus, enhances DC infection in cis, and promotes transmission to T cells. Removal of the HSs from the cell surface by heparinase III or by silencing syndecan-3 by siRNA partially inhibited HIV-1 transmission by immature DCs, whereas neutralizing both syndecan-3 and DC-SIGN completely abrogated HIV-1 capture and subsequent transmission. Thus, HIV-1 exploits both syndecan-3 and DC-SIGN to mediate HIV-1 transmission, and an effective microbicide should target both syndecan-3 and DC-SIGN on DCs to prevent transmission.