Although the involvement of alpha 6 beta 4, an integrin laminin receptor, in hemidesmosome organization has dominated the study of this integrin, recent studies are revealing novel functions for alpha 6 beta 4 in the migration of epithelial and carcinoma cells. The engagement of laminin by alpha 6 beta 4 can stabilize actin-rich protrusions and mediate traction forces necessary for cell movement. This integrin also has a significant impact on signaling molecules that stimulate migration and invasion, especially PI3-K and Rho GTPases. Activation of PI3-K by alpha 6 beta 4 enhances the formation of actin protrusions, and it may stimulate the function of other integrins, such as alpha 3 beta 1, that are also important for epithelial migration. Signaling through alpha 6 beta 4 may not always depend on the adhesive functions of this integrin, a possibility that has profound implications for migration and invasion because it implies that the ability of alpha 6 beta 4 to stimulate these processes is not limited to specific matrix environments.