The hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) gene sequence was determined for 16 antigenic variants of human parainfluenza virus type 3 (PIV3). The variants were selected by using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to the HN protein which inhibit neuraminidase, hemagglutination, or both activities. Each variant had a single-point mutation in the HN gene, coding for a single amino acid substitution in the HN protein. Operational and topographic maps of the HN protein correlated well with the relative positions of the substitutions. There was little correlation between the cross-reactivity of a MAb with the bovine PIV3 HN and the amount of amino acid homology between the human and bovine PIV3 HN proteins in the regions of the epitopes, suggesting that many of the epitopes are conformational in nature. Computer-assisted analysis of the HN protein predicted a secondary structure composed primarily of hydrophobic beta sheets interconnected by random hydrophilic coil structures. The HN epitopes were located in predicted coil regions. Epitopes recognized by MAbs which inhibit neuraminidase activity of the virus were located in a region which appears to be structurally conserved among several paramyxovirus HN proteins and which may represent the sialic cid-binding site of the HN molecule.