The extracellular matrices of different tissues contain components which affect the migration, morphology and differentiation of many types of cells. These forms of cell behavior often involve dramatic changes in cytoskeletal organization. Extracellular matrix components are recognized by specific cell surface receptors which span the membrane and interact with the actin cytoskeleton. In cultured cells, the matrix receptors are concentrated in sites of cell attachment called focal adhesions. Information that is conveyed from the extracellular matrix to the cytoskeleton may involve matrix components, cell surface receptors, as well as the proteins at the cytoplasmic face of the focal adhesion which link the receptors to the actin cytoskeleton.