Cell-matrix adhesion is recognized as a physiologic determinant of cell growth and survival. Integrin occupancy seems to be a primary role. We sought to investigate the signal transduction pathways for integrin effects on cell survival in hepatic stellate cells. Integrin function was antagonized by the soluble integrin recognition sequence pentapeptide Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (GRGDS) in primary cultures of rat hepatic stellate cells. Integrin antagonism with GRGDS peptide induced apoptosis. To investigate signal transduction mechanisms for the effect of integrins on cell survival in hepatic stellate cells, the expression of p53, Bcl-2, and Bax was analyzed. Incubation with soluble GRGDS peptide resulted in increased expression of p53 and decreased the Bcl-2/Bax ratio. In conclusion, these findings indicate that the abrogation of cell adhesion with soluble GRGDS peptide plays a critical role in the induction of apoptosis of rat hepatic stellate cells.