Ligation of cell surface matrix adhesion receptors such as integrins can increase expression of specific cell cycle regulatory proteins such as cyclin A, thereby regulating cell cycle progression. Disruption of cell surface matrix receptor interaction with the extracellular matrix can trigger apoptosis. Induction of apoptosis has been linked to unscheduled up-regulation of cyclin A and activation of cyclin-A-associated dependent kinase 2 activity due to cleavage of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors by caspases. We have found that ligation of the cell surface matrix adhesion receptor CD44 by anti-CD44 antibody induces cell detachment and triggers apoptosis. In this report we show that ligation of CD44 by anti-CD44 antibody increases the expression of cyclin A protein prior to activation of caspase-3-like activity and morphological changes of apoptosis. Down-regulation of cyclin A protein levels by cyclin A antisense oligonucleotides dramatically decreased fibroblast apoptosis in response to anti-CD44 antibody. These data identify an important functional role of cyclin A in the induction of fibroblast apoptosis due to the ligation of the cell surface adhesion receptor CD44 by anti-CD44 antibody.