Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) strains differ in their capacity to replicate in macrophages, but mechanisms underlying these differences are not fully understood. Here, we identify a highly conserved Nlinked glycosylation site (N173 in SIV, corresponding to N160 in HIV) in the V2 region of the SIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) as a novel determinant of macrophage tropism and characterize mechanisms underlying this phenotype. Loss of the N173 glycosylation site in the non-macrophage-tropic SIVmac239 by introducing an N173Q mutation enhanced viral replication and multinucleated giant cell formation upon infection of rhesus macrophages, while the addition of N173 to SIVmac251 had the opposite effect. The removal of N173 in SIVmac239 enhanced CD4-independent cell-to-cell transmission to CCR5-expressing cells. SIVmac239 with N173Q mediated CD4-independent cell-cell fusion but could not infect CD4-negative cells in single-round infections. Thus, CD4-independent phenotypes were detected only in the context of cell-to-cell contact. Similar results were obtained in SIVmac251 with and without N173. N173 decreased the neutralization sensitivity of SIVmac251 but had no effect on the neutralization sensitivity of SIVmac239. The N173Q mutation had no effect on SIVmac239 binding to CD4 in Biacore assays, coimmunoprecipitation assays, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). These findings suggest that the loss of the N173 N-linked glycosylation site increases SIVmac239 replication in macrophages by enhancing CD4-independent cell-to-cell virus transmission through CCR5-mediated fusion. This mechanism may facilitate the escape of macrophage-tropic viruses from neutralizing antibodies while promoting spreading infection by these viruses in vivo.