Integrins alpha 1 beta 1 and alpha 2 beta 1 when purified by collagen affinity chromatography, showed distinct binding to mouse tumor laminin-1, which has the chain composition alpha 1 beta 1 gamma 1. The binding was, however, about 10-fold lower than to collagen IV. Only little (alpha 1 beta 1) or no binding (alpha 2 beta 1) was observed to two different laminin isoforms (alpha 2 beta 1 gamma 1, alpha 2 beta 2 gamma 1) from human placenta. Binding to laminin-1 was abolished by EDTA and could be specifically inhibited by antibodies to the respective integrin alpha subunit. These antibodies also inhibited cell adhesion to collagens. The binding of soluble integrins was weaker than that of immobilized integrins but could be enhanced by an activating anti(beta 1 integrin). No enhancement was observed for immobilized integrins. Studies with laminin-1 fragments demonstrated lack of binding to the major cell-adhesive fragment E8 from the long arm, fragments E3 and E4, involved in heparin-binding and self-assembly, respectively, and fragment P1, corresponding to the inner segments of the short arms. A larger short-arm fragment (E1XNd), which lacks the N-terminal beta 1 chain domains V and VI, was as active as laminin. Together, these results, suggested the localization of the binding sites for alpha 1 beta 1 and alpha 2 beta 1 to the N-terminal region of the laminin alpha 1 chain. Fragment P1 but not intact laminin-1 bound to alpha V beta 3 integrin in an EDTA-sensitive and RGD-sensitive manner, underscoring previous data on the cryptic nature of the RGD site in laminin-1. Further analyses by surface plasmon resonance assays demonstrated a KD = 50 nM for alpha 2 beta 1/laminin-1 binding and a KD = 450 nM for alpha V beta 3/fragment P1 binding and confirmed the anti-beta 1-mediated increase in affinity for alpha 2 beta 1.