The differential expression of laminin receptors has been shown to modulate the invasive capability of malignant cells. We have investigated the reactivity of human pulmonary squamous carcinomas (SSC, n = 20) and adenocarcinomas (ADC, n = 20) with monoclonal antibodies to the cytoplasmic and extracellular domains of the integrin subunits alpha3 and alpha6. Integrins containing these subunits are laminin receptors. Monoclonal antibodies to beta1 and beta4 subunits, the beta1C splice variant of beta1, as well as to Ki-67, were also used. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) single-strand conformational polymorphism analysis was done to detect possible mutations in the cytodomains. All carcinomas expressed alpha3 extensively; alpha3 expression predominated (40 of 40) over alpha6 (25 of 40). In all alpha6-positive carcinomas, alpha6A was expressed, whereas alpha6B was weakly expressed only in some of them. No mutations of the intracytoplasmic domain A of alpha3 and of the A or B intracytoplasmic domains of alpha6 were shown. Notably, in normal bronchial epithelium, alpha6 colocalized with beta4, whereas in the tumors, alpha6A frequently overlapped with beta1 in a circumferential pattern; alpha6beta1 coexpression was also shown by coprecipitation experiments. Strong and extensive beta4 reactions were invariably polarized at the cell/stroma interface in SCC and ADC. An inverse correlation was found between the expression of beta1C and Ki-67. The prevalence of alpha6A in pulmonary SCC and ADC is in contrast with previous results in colonic ADC in which alpha6B prevails, and alpha6 predominates over alpha3. The absence of mutations of the cytodomains suggests that the integrin subunits of these carcinomas are potentially active. Predominance of alpha3 over alpha6 and of alpha6A over alpha6B may contribute to explain the aggressive and metastatic behavior of lung carcinomas.