The chemokine CXCL12 (also known as stromal cell-derived factor, SDF-1) is constitutively expressed by stromal resident cells and is involved in the homeostatic and inflammatory traffic of leukocytes. Binding of CXCL12 to glycosaminoglycans on endothelial cells (ECs) is supposed to be relevant to the regulation of leukocyte diapedesis and neoangiogenesis during inflammatory responses. To improve our understanding of the relevance of this process to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we have studied the mechanisms of presentation of exogenous CXCL12 by cultured RA ECs. RA synovial tissues had higher levels of CXCL12 on the endothelium than osteoarthritis (OA) tissues; in both, CXCL12 colocalized to heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) and high endothelial venules. In cultured RA ECs, exogenous CXCL12α was able to bind in a CXCR4-independent manner to surface HSPGs. Desulfation of RA EC HSPGs by pretreatment with sodium chlorate, or by replacing in a synthetic CXCL12α the residues Lys24 and Lys27 by Ser (CXCL12α-K2427S), decreased or abrogated the ability of the chemokine to bind to RA ECs. Ex vivo, synovial ECs from patients with either OA or RA displayed a higher CXCL12-binding capacity than human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs), and in HUVECs the binding of CXCL12 was increased on exposure to tumor necrosis factor-α or lymphotoxin-α1β2. Our findings indicate that CXCL12 binds to HSPGs on ECs of RA synovium. The phenomenon relates to the interaction of HSPGs with a CXCL12 domain with net positive surface charge located in the first β strand, which encompasses a canonical BXBB HSPG-binding motif. Furthermore, we show that the attachment of CXCL12 to HSPGs is upregulated by inflammatory cytokines. Both the upregulation of a constitutive chemokine during chronic inflammation and the HSPG-dependent immobilization of CXCL12 in EC surfaces are potential sites for therapeutic intervention.