Lymphopoietic cells require interactions with bone marrow stroma for normal maturation and show changes in adhesion to matrix during their differentiation. Syndecan, a heparan sulfate-rich integral membrane proteoglycan, functions as a matrix receptor by binding cells to interstitial collagens, fibronectin, and thrombospondin. Therefore, we asked whether syndecan was present on the surface of lymphopoietic cells. In bone marrow, we find syndecan only on precursor B cells. Expression changes with pre-B cell maturation in the marrow and with B-lymphocyte differentiation to plasma cells in interstitial matrices. Syndecan on B cell precursors is more heterogeneous and slightly larger than on plasma cells. Syndecan 1) is lost immediately before maturation and release of B lymphocytes into the circulation, 2) is absent on circulating and peripheral B lymphocytes, and 3) is reexpressed upon their differentiation into immobilized plasma cells. Thus, syndecan is expressed only when and where B lymphocytes associate with extracellular matrix. These results indicate that B cells differentiating in vivo alter their matrix receptor expression and suggest a role for syndecan in B cell stage-specific adhesion.