Herpesviruses require membrane-associated glycoproteins gB, gH, and gL for entry into host cells. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) gp42 is a unique protein also required for viral entry into B cells. Key interactions between EBV gp42 and the EBV gH/gL complex were investigated to further elucidate their roles in membrane fusion. Deletion and point mutants within the N-terminal region of gp42 revealed residues important for gH/gL binding and membrane fusion. Many five-residue deletion mutants in the N-terminal region of gp42 that exhibit reduced membrane fusion activity retain binding with gH/gL but map out two functional stretches between residues 36 and 96. Synthetic peptides derived from the gp42 N-terminal region were studied in in vitro binding experiments with purified gH/gL and in cell-cell fusion assays. A peptide spanning gp42 residues 36 to 81 (peptide 36-81) binds gH/gL with nanomolar affinity, comparable to full-length gp42. Peptide 36-81 efficiently inhibits epithelial cell membrane fusion and competes with soluble gp42 to inhibit B-cell fusion. Additionally, this peptide at low nanomolar concentrations inhibits epithelial cell infection by intact virus. Shorter gp42 peptides spanning the two functional regions identified by deletion mutagenesis had little or no binding to soluble gH/gL and were also unable to inhibit epithelial cell fusion, nor could they complement gp42 deletion mutants in B-cell fusion. These studies identify key residues of gp42 that are essential for gH/gL binding and membrane fusion activation, providing a nanomolar inhibitor of EBV-mediated membrane fusion.