Alteration of the surface glycosylation pattern on malignant cells potentially affects tumor immunity by directly influencing interactions with glycan-binding proteins (lectins) on the surface of immunomodulatory cells. The sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectins Siglec-7 and -9 are MHC class I-independent inhibitory receptors on human NK cells that recognize sialic acid-containing carbohydrates. Here, we found that the presence of Siglec-9 defined a subset of cytotoxic NK cells with a mature phenotype and enhanced chemotactic potential. Interestingly, this Siglec-9+ NK cell population was reduced in the peripheral blood of cancer patients. Broad analysis of primary tumor samples revealed that ligands of Siglec-7 and -9 were expressed on human cancer cells of different histological types. Expression of Siglec-7 and -9 ligands was associated with susceptibility of NK cell-sensitive tumor cells and, unexpectedly, of presumably NK cell-resistant tumor cells to NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Together, these observations have direct implications for NK cell-based therapies and highlight the requirement to consider both MHC class I haplotype and tumor-specific glycosylation.