We investigated the role of glycophorins C and D in the association of band 4.1 with the erythrocyte membrane by measuring the binding of band 4.1 to erythrocyte inside-out vesicles stripped of endogenous band 4.1. Vesicles were prepared from either normal erythrocytes or erythrocytes completely lacking glycophorins C and D (Leach phenotype). Band 4.1 binding to vesicles from normal erythrocytes gave rise to a nonlinear Scatchard plot, indicative of two classes of binding sites: a low-capacity, high-affinity class of sites (about 10% of the total) and a high-capacity, low-affinity class of sites. Vesicles prepared from Leach erythrocytes had a binding capacity for band 4.1 that was, on average, 32% lower than that of vesicles from normal erythrocytes. This difference was caused by the complete absence of the high-affinity binding sites as well as by a decrease in the number of low-affinity binding sites. Reduction of membrane phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate (PIP2) content by adenosine triphosphate depletion or activation of phosphoinositidase C resulted in a decrease in band 4.1 binding capacity to a similar extent in both control and Leach vesicles. The principal effect of PIP2 depletion was a reduction in the number of low-affinity band 4.1 binding sites in control and Leach vesicles. The fact that PIP2 depletion induced a decrease in band 4.1 binding to Leach vesicles shows that glycophorin C or D is not required for the formation of PIP2-sensitive band 4.1 binding sites, and may not be involved in PIP2-sensitive band 4.1 binding sites even when they are present. Our studies give new insights into the involvement of glycophorins and of PIP2 in modulating cytoskeletal-membrane interactions.