Human fibrillin, a major component of the extracellular matrix, exists as two highly homologous forms (fibrillin-1 and -2). Several modules of fibrillin are homologous to TGF-beta1 binding protein. Two of these modules, D25 (the 25th module of fibrillin-1 and -2 D segment) and D12 (the 12th module of fibrillin-2 D segment) contain the cell adhesion motif arginyl-glycyl-aspartyl (RGD). The ability of RGD to mediate adhesion to D25-1 and D12-2 was investigated using bacterially expressed fusion proteins. Human skin fibroblasts and murine L-cells were used in microassays of cell attachment and cell spreading on fibrillin fusion-protein substrata. Dose-dependent experiments and competitive inhibition by soluble RGD-containing peptides demonstrated that D25-1 and D12-2 mediate RGD-dependent cell adhesion. These results provide evidence for a cell adhesion function of fibrillin-2. Inhibition with anti-integrin antibodies showed that alpha(v) and beta3 integrins mediate adhesion to D25-1, while alpha3, alpha(v) and beta1 are involved in adhesion to D12-2. Binding of different receptors may elicit distinct cell signalling supporting the hypothesis that fibrillin-1 and fibrillin-2 have distinct roles.