Cofactors are essential for driving recombinant prion protein into pathogenic conformers. Polyanions promote prion aggregation in vitro, yet the cofactors that modulate prion assembly in vivo remain largely unknown. Here we report that the endogenous glycosaminoglycan, heparan sulfate (HS), impacts prion propagation kinetics and deposition sites in the brain. Exostosin-1 haploinsufficient (Ext1+/-) mice, which produce short HS chains, show a prolonged survival and a redistribution of plaques from the parenchyma to vessels when infected with fibrillar prions, and a modest delay when infected with subfibrillar prions. Notably, the fibrillar, plaque-forming prions are composed of ADAM10-cleaved prion protein lacking a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor, indicating that these prions are mobile and assemble extracellularly. By analyzing the prion-bound HS using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), we identified the disaccharide signature of HS differentially bound to fibrillar compared to subfibrillar prions, and found approximately 20-fold more HS bound to the fibrils. Finally, LC-MS of prion-bound HS from human patients with familial and sporadic prion disease also showed distinct HS signatures and higher HS levels associated with fibrillar prions. This study provides the first in vivo evidence of an endogenous cofactor that accelerates prion disease progression and enhances parenchymal deposition of ADAM10-cleaved, mobile prions.