Lutheran/basal cell adhesion molecule (Lu/BCAM) is a transmembrane adhesion molecule expressed by erythrocytes and endothelial cells that can interact with the extracellular matrix protein laminin-α5. In sickle cell disease, Lu/BCAM is thought to contribute to adhesion of sickle erythrocytes to the vascular wall, especially during vaso-occlusive crises. On healthy erythrocytes however, its function is unclear. Here we report that Lu/BCAM is activated during erythrocyte aging. We show that Lu/BCAM-mediated binding to laminin-α5 is restricted by interacting, in cis, with glycophorin-C-derived sialic acid residues. Following loss of sialic acid during erythrocyte aging, Lu/BCAM is released from glycophorin-C and allowed to interact with sialic acid residues on laminin-α5. Decreased glycophorin-C sialylation, as observed in individuals lacking exon 3 of glycophorin-C, the so-called Gerbich phenotype, was found to correlate with increased Lu/BCAM-dependent binding to laminin-α5. In addition, we identified the sialic acid-binding site within the third immunoglobulin-like domain within Lu/BCAM that accounts for the interaction with glycophorin-C and laminin-α5. Last, we present evidence that neuraminidase-expressing pathogens, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, can similarly induce Lu/BCAM-mediated binding to laminin-α5, by cleaving terminal sialic acid residues from the erythrocyte membrane. These results shed new light on the mechanisms contributing to increased adhesiveness of erythrocytes at the end of their lifespan, possibly facilitating their clearance. Furthermore, this work may contribute to understanding the pathology induced by neuraminidase-positive bacteria, because they are especially harmful to patients suffering from sickle cell disease and are associated with the occurrence of vaso-occlusive crises.