Glycosylation of integrins has been implicated in the modulation of their function. Characterisation of carbohydrate moieties of alpha(3) and beta(1) subunits from non-metastatic (WM35) and metastatic (A375) human melanoma cell lines was carried out on peptide-N-glycosidase F-released glycans using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS). beta(1) integrin subunit from both cell lines displayed tri- and tetraantennary oligosaccharides complex type glycans, but only in A375 cell line was the sialylated tetraantennary complex type glycan (Hex(7)HexNAc(6)FucSia(4)) present. In contrast, only alpha(3) subunit from metastatic cells possessed beta1-6 branched structures. Our data indicate that the beta(1) and alpha(3) subunits expressed by the metastatic A375 cell line carry beta1-6 branched structures, suggesting that these cancer-associated glycan chains may modulate tumor cell adhesion by affecting the ligand binding properties of alpha(3)beta(1) integrin. In direct ligand binding assays, alpha(3)beta(1) integrin from both cell lines binds strongly to fibronectin and to much lesser degree to placental laminin. No binding to collagen IV was observed. Enzymatic removal of sialic acid residues from purified alpha(3)beta(1) integrin stimulates its adhesion to all examined ECM proteins. Our data suggest that the glycosylation profile of alpha(3)beta(1) integrin in human melanoma cells correlates with the acquisition of invasive capacity during melanoma progression.