VLA-1 to VLA-6 are cell-surface molecules binding to matrix molecules such as collagen, fibronectin, epiligrin, and laminin. In addition, VLA-4 binds to VCAM-1 and ICAM-2, thus mediating intercellular adhesion prerogative for lymphocyte extravasation or 'homing'. Using frozen tissue of normal lymphoid organs and of 100 morphologically and immunologically typed B cell neoplasias, monoclonal antibodies to all six VAL-alpha and to the common beta-chain were applied to serial sections. VLAs were found differentially expressed in cytologically and microtopographically defined B-cell subsets [follicular mantle zone cells (MZ), follicular center cells (FC), extrafollicular cells (EF), and plasma cells (PC)] of normal spleen, lymph node, and thymic medulla (which contains an EF compartment). Thus, these cell types, which correspond to discrete stages of B cell development, can also be defined by their VLA status. Acute B lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was VLA-1-, 2-, 3 +/-, 4 +/-, 5 +/-, 6-. The VLA-1-, -2 +/-, 3+, -4+, -5+, -6-phenotype of chronic B lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) resembled that of MZ. Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) differed from CLL in its tendency to lack VLA-2, in its consistent lack of VLA-3, and altogether resembled splenic EF in its VLA profile. Mantle zone lymphoma (MZL) consistently expressed VLA-3 and -4 and frequently VLA-5. Nodal follicular center cell lymphomas (FCCL) were VLA-1- and -2- and very rarely expressed VLA-5 and -6. Thus, FCCL although roughly corresponding to FC, tended to aberrantly express VLA-3 and/or VLA-4. Burkitt's lymphoma resembled FCCL but expressed VLA-4 more frequently and at higher levels. Mediastinal clear cell lymphoma of B-cell type differed from FCCL in its regular lack of VLA-3, -5, and -6 and in frequently lacking VLA-4. Medullary plasmacytoma was VLA-1-, -2-, -3 +/-, -4 +/-, -5-, -6+, thus being the only B cell neoplasia which was consistently VLA-6+. With respect to the well-known clinical characteristics of the B cell malignancies examined, the leukemic phenotype might crucially depend on the presence of VLA-5.