Leukocyte recruitment from the vasculature into tissues is a crucial component of the immune system, but is also key to inflammatory disease. Chemokines are central to this process but have yet to be therapeutically targeted during inflammation, due to a lack of mechanistic understanding. Specifically, CXCL4 (PF4) has no established receptor that explains its function. Here we use biophysical, in vitro and in vivo techniques to determine the mechanism underlying CXCL4 mediated leukocyte recruitment. We demonstrate that CXCL4 binds to glycosaminoglycan (GAG) sugars within the endothelial extracellular matrix resulting in increased vascular permeability and non-specific recruitment of a range of leukocytes. Furthermore, GAG sulphation confers selectivity onto chemokine localisation. These findings represent a new understanding of chemokine biology, providing novel mechanisms for future therapeutic targeting.