In recent years, several antagonists of alpha(v)beta3 have been used to develop therapeutic approaches to the treatment of melanoma neoplasia. We studied the effects of anti-alpha(v)-integrin-blocking antibodies on attached M21 melanoma cells, the cellular distribution of alpha(v)-integrin and the molecular organization of focal structures. Anti-alpha(v)-integrin-blocking antibodies 17E6 and LM609, and an anti-alpha(v)beta3-integrin antagonist peptide cRGD 85189 induced detachment of M21 melanoma cells cultured for 24 hours on various substrates. cRGD was the most effective antagonist, reducing the number of adherent cells by 80%, while 17E6 reduced adhesion by only 30%. Light- and electron microscopy revealed attached cells with a flat shape and well-formed actin cytoskeleton. After treatment, cells became rounded and detached from the culture dish. alpha(v)-Integrins and focal-contact proteins were observed at adhesion sites in focal structures by immunocytochemistry. After treatment, however, cell rounding was accompanied by disorganization of the actin filaments and redistribution of alpha(v)-integrins and most of the focal proteins studied, except vinculin and tensin. Our results indicate that treatment of M21 melanoma cells with a(v)-integrin antagonists disrupts the actin cytoskeleton, redistributes a(v)-integrin and induces molecular disassembly of focal contacts.