Lymphocytes adhere to fibronectin (FN) via multiple receptors of the VLA (beta 1, CD29 integrin) family. The cellular requirement for the variety of FN receptors (FNR) which have been described is unclear, but they may be associated with differential signalling processes, cooperative effects which may stabilize cellular attachment, or cell homing and retention processes. The present study was undertaken to examine the FN adherence properties and receptor utilization patterns of human B cells. Of ten B-cell culture lines which were studied, six demonstrated a significant adherence to FN. Among these, four employed alpha 4 beta 1, (CD49d/29) and two employed alpha 4 beta 1/alpha 5 beta 1, (CD49d/29, CD49e/29). There was no apparent correlation between the differentiation status of the lines and their FNR utilization patterns. Furthermore, expression of FNR alone was not sufficient to confer FN binding potential. Freshly isolated tonsil B cells did not display significant adherence to FN. Following stimulation, a marked increase in VLA antigens was observed, and the capacity to attach to FN-coated surfaces was co-acquired. Analysis of the induced bulk B-cell population demonstrated that both alpha 4 beta 1 and alpha 5 beta 1 were used for adherence. These results clearly indicate that activated B cells, similar to T cells, may express and utilize alpha 5 beta 1 as a FNR.