In this study the direct involvement of cadherins in adhesion-mediated growth inhibition was investigated. It is shown here that overexpression of N-cadherin in CHO cells significantly suppresses their growth rate. Interaction of these cells and two additional fibroblastic lines with synthetic beads coated with N-cadherin ligands (recombinant N-cadherin ectodomain or specific antibodies) leads to growth arrest at the G1 phase of the cell cycle. The cadherin-reactive beads inhibit the entry into S phase and the reduction in the levels of cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitors p21 and p27, following serum-stimulation of starved cells. In exponentially growing cells these beads induce G1 arrest accompanied by elevation in p27 only. We propose that cadherin-mediated signaling is involved in contact inhibition of growth by inducing cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase and elevation of p27 levels.