CD8 serves both as an adhesion molecule for class I MHC molecules and as a coreceptor with the TCR for T cell activation. Here we study the developmental regulation of CD8-mediated binding to noncognate peptide/MHC ligands (i.e., those not bound by the TCR). We show that CD8's ability to bind soluble class I MHC tetramers and to mediate T cell adhesion under shear flow conditions diminishes as double-positive thymocytes mature into CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, we provide evidence that this decreased CD8 binding results from increased T cell sialylation upon T cell maturation. These data suggest that CD8's ability to interact with class I MHC is not fixed and is developmentally regulated through the T cell's glycosylation state.