The infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV), etiological agent of the disease by the same name, causes major losses to the salmon industry. Classified as a member of the Orthomyxoviridae family, ISAV is characterized by the presence of two surface glycoproteins termed hemagglutinin esterase (HE) and fusion protein (F), both of them directly involved in the initial interaction of the virus with the target cell. HE mediates receptor binding and destruction, while F promotes the fusion process of the viral and cell membranes. The carboxy-terminal end of F (F2) possesses canonical structural characteristics of a type I fusion protein, while no functional properties have been proposed for the amino-terminal (F1) region. In this report, based on in silico modeling, we propose a tertiary structure for the F1 region, which resembles a sialic acid binding domain. Furthermore, using recombinant forms of both HE and F proteins and an in vitro model system, we demonstrate the interaction of F with a cell receptor, the hydrolysis of this receptor by the HE esterase, and a crucial role for F1 in the fusion mechanism. Our interpretation is that binding of F to its cell receptor is fundamental for membrane fusion and that the esterase in HE modulates this interaction.