Podosomes are punctate adhesion structures first described in osteoclasts and next found in src-transformed cells of mesenchymal origin. Podosomes were never observed in cultured epithelial cells where cell-matrix adhesion structures were represented only by focal contacts and hemidesmosomes interacting with microfilaments and intermediate filaments, respectively. Rat bladder carcinoma cells and normal human keratinocytes showed that hemidesmosome-like structures are organized around a core of actin filaments that appears early during cell adhesion and looks similar to those of podosomes described in cells of mesenchymal origin. The epithelial podosome-like structures specifically contain Arp2/3 complex, cortactin, dynamin, gelsolin, N-WASP, VASP, Grb2 and src-like kinase(s). The integrin alpha3beta1 is localized circularly around F-actin cores and co-distributes with paxillin, vinculin and zyxin. The maintenance of the F-actin core and the surrounding hemidesmosomes depends on actin polymerization, src family kinases and Grb2, but not on microtubular integrity. Thus, podosomes are not unique to cells of mesenchymal origin, but also appear in epithelial cells where they may take part in regulating basement membrane adhesion.