Expression of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-1 is a hallmark of both normal and multiple myeloma (MM) plasma cells. Syndecan-1 could affect plasma cell fate by strengthening integrin-mediated adhesion via its core protein and/or by accommodating and presenting soluble factors via its HS side chains. Here, we show that inducible RNAi-mediated knockdown of syndecan-1 in human MM cells leads to reduced growth rates and a strong increase of apoptosis. Importantly, knockdown of EXT1, a copolymerase critical for HS chain biosynthesis, had similar effects. Using an innovative myeloma xenotransplantation model in Rag-2(-/-)gamma(c)(-/-) mice, we demonstrate that induction of EXT1 knockdown in vivo dramatically suppresses the growth of bone marrow localized myeloma. Our findings provide direct evidence that the HS chains of syndecan-1 are crucial for the growth and survival of MM cells within the bone marrow environment, and indicate the HS biosynthesis machinery as a potential treatment target in MM.