Tamm-Horsfall protein (THP) binds strongly to complement 1q (C1q), a key component of the classical complement pathway. The goals of this study were to determine whether THP altered the activation of the classical complement pathway and whether the carbohydrate portion of THP was involved in this glycoprotein's binding to C1q and alteration of complement activation. The ability of THP to prevent complement activation in diluted serum or plasma incubated at 37°C was assessed using both a haemolytic assay with antibody-sensitized sheep RBC and a C4d ELISA. Both these methods showed that THP inhibited activation of the classical complement pathway in a dose-dependent manner. Glycosidases were used to remove most of the carbohydrate from THP. This partially deglycosylated THP bound human IgG with a higher affinity (KD1 = 1.4 nmol/L; KD2 = 0.31 μmol/L) than did intact THP (KD1 = 33.4 nmol/L; KD2 = 31.0 μmol/L). An ELISA showed that removal of carbohydrate from THP reduced, but did not eliminate, the ability of this protein to inhibit binding of C1q to intact THP. Haemolysis assays using antibody-sensitized sheep RBC showed that removal of THP carbohydrate eliminated the ability of THP to protect against complement activation. In conclusion, THP inhibited the activation of the classical complement pathway that occurred in diluted serum or plasma. The carbohydrate moieties of THP appeared to be important in this inhibitory activity.