Circulating lymphocytes home to the mucosal lymphoid organs, Peyer's patches (PP), through high endothelial venules (HEV). In situ analyses revealed that transfused lymph node cells (LNCs) interact with PP-HEV in a series of overlapping adhesion events: L-selectin (CD62L) > alpha 4 beta 7 initiates interaction, L-selectin and alpha 4 beta 7 both participate in rolling, and G alpha i-linked activation triggers arrest that requires both alpha 4 beta 7 and LFA-1. alpha 4 beta 7 dramatically reduces rolling velocity, and appears to be required for engagement of LFA-1. In contrast with resting LNC, preactivated LNC or alpha 4 beta 7hi lymphoma cells require only alpha 4 beta 7 for arrest in PP-HEV. The predominant PP-HEV ligand for alpha 4 beta 7 but also apparently for L-selectin is the mucosal addressin MAd-CAM-1. These results validate the concept of multimolecular adhesion/decision cascades in physiologic lymphocyte-endothelial recognition, define a novel role for alpha 4 integrins as a "bridge" between selectin and beta 2 integrin-dependent events, and reemphasize the potential for direct adhesion through preactivated alpha 4 integrins alone.