The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment supports leukaemia cell survival and proliferation. The roles played by adhesive receptor interactions in the survival of T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) cells on BM stromal cells are not well understood. Recently, we have developed an assay that partially recapitulates the BM microenvironment using HS-5 BM stromal cells. In this assay, the magnitude of ex vivo T-ALL lymphoblast survival predicts patient outcome. We examined the molecular basis for cell-cell adhesive events leading to T-ALL lymphoblast survival on HS-5 and on donor-derived BM stroma. Lympho cyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) on T-ALL cell lines bound intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on HS-5 monolayers, and survival was inhibited 85-98% with monoclonal antibodies directed against LFA-1 or ICAM-1. We compared these results with patient-derived T-ALL lymphoblasts co-cultured on either HS-5 BM or normal BM monolayers and found that LFA-1 and ICAM-1 were required, but not alone sufficient for ex vivo leukaemic cell survival. On normal BM stroma, but not HS-5 monolayers, two additional adhesion molecules, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and E-selectin, were highly expressed and contributed to T-ALL cell survival. This is the first report to demonstrate the importance of LFA-1/ICAM-1-mediated adhesion as a critical event in a cascade of cell surface receptor-ligand interactions that regulate T-ALL survival in the BM microenvironment.