CD97 is an activation-induced antigen on leukocytes with a seven-span transmembrane (7-TM) region homologous to the secretin receptor superfamily. However, in contrast to this group of peptide hormone receptors, CD97 has an extended extracellular region with three EGF domains at the NH2 terminus, two of them with a calcium binding site. By demonstrating that lymphocytes and erythrocytes specifically adhere to CD97-transfected COS cells we here show that CD97 in parallel with its molecular evolution has acquired the ability to bind cellular ligands. A mAb selected on its capacity to block the adhesion between CD97 transfectants and red cells was found to be directed to the NH2-terminal short consensus repeat (SCR) of decay accelerating factor (DAF, CD55), a regulatory protein of the complement cascade. The specificity of the interaction of CD97 with CD55 was established by the observation that erythrocytes that lack CD55, obtained from patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) or the CD55, phenotype Inab, failed to adhere to CD97 transfectants. This is the first demonstration of a cellular ligand for a 7-TM receptor.