The extracellular matrix protein tenascin (previously described as myotendinous antigen) is selectively present in the mesenchyme surrounding fetal rat mammary glands, hair follicles, and teeth, three organ anlagen where the mesenchyme is essential for development. No tenascin is detectable in the normal adult mammary gland. Carcinogen-induced mammary tumors contained tenascin in their fibrous tissue. As reported for the molecule described as a "hexabrachion," tenascin contaminates so-called "cell-surface fibronectin," where it accounts for most of the detectable hemagglutinating activity. Of the extracellular matrix proteins compared, tenascin is the least effective substrate for attachment of primary mammary tumor cells, but the most effective in promoting cell growth after serum is removed from the culture medium.