We are investigating the hypothesis that cancer progression involves the formation of abnormal cadherin-catenin complexes. The detailed analysis of cadherins and catenins expressed in a panel of 17 human bladder-cancer cell lines revealed that E-cadherin was down-regulated at the mRNA level in 5 cell lines. Interestingly, plakoglobin was also down-regulated at the mRNA level in these 5 cell lines only. Furthermore, a slower migrating form of pp120 was detected in these cell lines and in 2 cell lines with heterogeneous E-cadherin expression. Cloning of the cadherins expressed in the bladder lines revealed that P-cadherin is expressed in the lines expressing E-cadherin and down-regulated at the mRNA level in lines devoid of E-cadherin. N-cadherin was expressed in the 5 lines with reduced E-cadherin expression, in the 2 lines with heterogeneous E-cadherin expression and in 2 other cell lines. Thus, we showed that catenin changes occur in correlation with lack of E-cadherin expression and that N-cadherin becomes predominantly expressed in cells that have lost E-cadherin expression. Our data suggest that co-regulation of the expression of genes encoding different members of the classical cadherins occurs during tumor progression and that expression of some catenins is also coordinated with cadherin expression.