Plectin is a high molecular mass protein (ca 530 kDa) that binds actin, intermediate filaments, and microtubules. Mutations of the human plectin gene cause epidermolysis bullosa simplex with muscular dystrophy. In mature human skeletal muscle, plectin is localized between neighboring myofibrils and between myofibrils and the sarcolemma, both at the level of Z-discs. In the present study we have analyzed plectin expression patterns with emphasis on its sarcolemmal localization during human skeletal muscle differentiation in vitro. In myoblasts plectin showed a cytoplasmic intermediate filament-like distribution, whereas in myotubes plectin is also found at the level of the sarcolemma. In particular, in early myotubes a specific plectin isoform colocalizes with the costameric proteins vinculin and beta1D integrin in longitudinally orientated structures which increased in number and longitudinal extension upon further maturation. In mature myotubes processes perpendicular to the parallel system of longitudinal structures became apparent. Subsequent to the occurrence of spontaneous myofibrillar contractions, the number of longitudinal streaks decreased, and plectin and other costameric proteins were found in an orderly cross-striated sarcolemmal lattice overlying myofibrillar Z-discs. Our study demonstrates that plectin is preassembled together with vinculin and beta1D integrin into primary longitudinal adhesion structures. After the occurrence of spontaneous contractions, these structures reorient and mature costameres are assembled.