We describe a novel integrin heterodimer on the surface of the human embryonic kidney cell line 293. This receptor is comprised of alpha v and beta 1 subunits, each of which has been previously found in association with other integrin subunits. This alpha v.beta 1 complex was identified as the predominant vitronectin receptor (VnR) on the surface of 293 cells by immunoprecipitation with antibodies raised against the alpha v subunit. Polymerase chain reaction analysis detected mRNAs for alpha v and beta 1 subunits while no evidence was obtained for beta 2, beta 3, or alpha IIb integrin subunit mRNA. Immunoprecipitation of surface-iodinated proteins with antibodies to alpha v gave bands of 150 and 120 kDa. The 120-kDa band reacted with antibodies to beta 1 in immunoblotting experiments. 293 cells adhere to vitronectin, fibronectin, laminin, and collagen IV, while von Willebrand factor and fibrinogen, known ligands of the VnR (alpha v.beta 3), did not support adhesion. A polyclonal antibody directed against both subunits of the VnR (alpha v, beta 3) inhibits attachment of 293 cells to vitronectin but not to other adhesive proteins. A beta 1-specific monoclonal inhibited attachment to fibronectin, laminin, and collagen IV, known ligands of beta 1 integrins, as well as vitronectin. This novel (alpha v. beta 1) VnR thus appears to mediate cell adhesion exclusively to vitronectin, in contrast to previously described VnRs which have multiple ligands.