To analyse the interactions between glioma cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, the adhesive and migratory capacity of five human glioma cell lines (D37MG, D54MG, GaMG, U118MG and U251MG) were studied. The expression of integrins was analysed and correlated to the adhesive and migratory abilities of the cells. All cell lines were able to adhere to and migrate on the extracellular matrix proteins collagen IV, fibronectin, laminin and vitronectin. Laminin was superior in propagating adhesion and migration in all five cell lines. As analysed by flow cytometry, the expression of the integrin subunits alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 4, alpha 5, alpha 6, beta 3, beta 4, alpha v, and integrin alpha v beta 5 proved to be uniform between the cell lines. All integrins except alpha 4, alpha 6, beta 3 and beta 4 were expressed on more than 85% of the cells. Inhibition of adhesion with synthetic peptides and antibodies directed against integrins demonstrated that adhesion on laminin was independent of integrins and the 67 kD laminin receptor. On the other hand, migration was shown to be integrin-dependent on all substrates. The results indicate that the mechanism responsible for cell adhesion in human gliomas differ from those present during migration, and that integrins play an important role in regulating these two mechanisms.