We tested hypothesis that the interaction of fibrinogen (Fg) with intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) mediates cellular adhesion and cell proliferation. Our results demonstrate that Fg : ICAM-1 ligation mediates endothelial cell survival and has an anti-apoptotic effect via activation of the MAP kinase pathway. Fg : ICAM-1 ligation in endothelial cells treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)alpha resulted in the hyperphosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1/2 (eightfold to 10-fold) at 5-30 min. The specificity of ERK-1/2 phosphorylation was verified using the recognition peptides Fg-gamma-(117-133) and ICAM-1(8-22). ERK-1/2 hyperphosphorylation was dependent on intact cytoskeleton, as treatment with cytochalasin B and nocodazole blocked this activity. The attachment of TNFalpha-treated endothelial cells to fibrinogen or Fg-gamma-(117-133) resulted in cell survival, as assessed by an annexin V binding assay. ICAM-1(8-22) blocked the survival process. The MEK-1 inhibitor PD 98059 blocked ERK-1/2 phosphorylation, and treatment of endothelial cells with PD 98059 resulted in apoptosis even upon Fg : ICAM-1 ligation. Cells transfected with dominant-negative ERK-1/2 underwent apoptosis upon Fg : ICAM-1 ligation. Cell survival factor A1 was specifically upregulated upon adhesion of TNFalpha-stimulated endothelial cells to Fg. A1 expression was blocked by ICAM-1(8-22) and PD 98059. The Fg : ICAM-1 endothelial cell survival pathway appears to be mediated via the activation and upregulation of ERK-1/2 and A1.