Osteoclasts isolated from the long bones of 5-day-old rats were seeded onto glass surfaces coated with osteopontin, bone sialoprotein, or fibronectin. Cell binding was promoted by all three proteins and inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by an RGD-containing peptide, while an RGE-containing peptide was ineffective. Immunocytochemistry of bone tissue showed enhanced concentration of osteopontin in bone opposite the clear zone of the osteoclasts, whereas immunolocalization of bone sialoprotein and fibronectin showed no accumulation on bone surfaces facing cells. The observations corroborate previous findings that the osteoclast is attached via an integrin to osteopontin on the bone surface. Although bone sialoprotein and fibronectin can mediate osteoclast binding in vitro, such a role in vivo is not supported by the immunocytochemical observations.