Chondrocytes isolated from the cephalic region of sterna from 14-day-old chick embryos used beta 1 integrins and required either Mg2+ or Mn2+ for attachment to plates coated with type I collagen, type II collagen, and fibronectin. beta 1 integrin was concentrated in adhesion plaques of the chondrocytes plated on type I collagen, type II collagen, and fibronectin substrates. Chondrocytes expressed at least 3 alpha-subunits, including alpha 3, alpha 5, and putative alpha 2. alpha 5, but not alpha 3, had a higher molecular weight in chondrocytes than in fibroblasts. Levels of alpha 3 and alpha 5 were about 25-30% of that in fibroblasts. When the chondrocytes were cultured in the presence of ascorbate in suspension, the cells aggregated into clusters. This aggregation was dependent on beta 1 integrin and type II collagen.