Cell-matrix interactions play an important role in the maintenance of cell shape, supposed to be mediated by the anchorage of cellular cytoskeleton to extracellular matrix via matrix receptors. In this work the expression of one of the known matrix receptors, syndecan, was studied during the hormone-induced change in the phenotype of Shionogi 115 (S115) mouse mammary tumor cells. In the presence of testosterone, when S115 cells express fibroblastic phenotype, they increased their growth rate and became gradually anchorage independent. These cells, however, revealed strong RGDS-dependent binding to fibronectin (FN) but not binding to the heparin-binding domain of FN. Instead, S115 cells growth without testosterone showed epithelial morphology and binding to the heparin-binding domain of FN, suggesting an alteration of syndecan expression in hormone-treated S115 cells. As quantitated by radioimmunoassay and by Western blot, the amounts of both matrix-binding ectodomain of syndecan and syndecan mRNA (2.6 kb) declined in hormone-treated S115 cells. The addition of antiandrogen cyproterone acetate to culture medium opposed the effect of testosterone on syndecan mRNA. We thus propose that the inactivation of syndecan gene and the consequent suppression of syndecan expression is related to the altered adhesion properties, the disappearance of epithelial phenotype, and, on the other hand, to the appearance of transformed-like phenotype in hormone-treated S115 cells.