Aggregation of Fc epsilonRI, the high-affinity receptor for IgE, on RBL-2H3 mast cells caused by reversible ligands such as multivalent antigen causes cellular responses that can be halted by subsequent addition of excess monovalent ligand. In contrast, Ca2+ and degranulation responses elicited by effectively irreversible streptavidin cross-linking of biotinylated IgE-Fc epsilonRI are not stopped by addition of excess biotin after stimulation is initiated. These results support previous conclusions based on studies with covalent oligomers of IgE that stable cross-links can continue to deliver stimulatory signals for extended periods of time. Dissociation measured in the presence of monovalent hapten reveals two populations of IgE-Fc epsilonRI cross-linked by multivalent antigen that differ in functional effectiveness. Aggregates with readily dissociable cross-links are normally responsible for triggering essentially all of the degranulation response, whereas aggregates with poorly dissociable cross-links apparently do not trigger this response. Treatment of RBL-2H3 cells with cytochalasin D, an inhibitor of actin polymerization, enhances downstream signaling and enables the less readily dissociable aggregates to stimulate Ca2+ and degranulation responses. Under these conditions, cytochalasin D does not affect hapten-mediated dissociation of multivalent antigen, nor does it prevent hapten from reversing tyrosine phosphorylation of Syk. Cytochalasin D alone causes tyrosine phosphorylation of a protein at approximately 75 kDa, and it reduces hapten-induced reversal of antigen-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of several other proteins. Taken together, these results indicate that stimulated actin polymerization normally regulates the coupling of aggregated Fc epsilonRI to downstream signaling pathways, and they provide an explanation for seeming discrepancies between responses to stable and reversible cross-links.