We report studies demonstrating the presence on human marrow stromal cells of binding sites for the soybean lectin (SBA). Marrow cells were separated by agglutination with SBA into an agglutinated cell (SBA+) fraction containing most mature hemic cells including T lymphocytes, and an unagglutinated cell (SBA-) fraction containing the hematopoietic stem cells. The vast majority of fibroblast colony-forming units (CFU- F) (97.2% +/- 1.1%) were in the SBA+ fraction. Mixing experiments using SBA+ and SBA- cells excluded the possibility that these results were caused by an unequal distribution of accessory cells having a regulatory effect on CFU-F growth. In the heterogeneous adherent layers of long-term marrow cultures derived from SBA+ and SBA- cells, endothelial cells, and adipocytes were found almost exclusively in cultures of SBA+ marrow cells. Immunofluorescence studies with fluorescein-labeled SBA revealed the staining of cultured marrow fibroblasts. This staining was inhibited by D-galactose, which is the sugar that specifically binds to SBA. Staining of marrow-derived heterogeneous adherent layers with fluorescein-labeled SBA demonstrated that cultured endothelial cells (identified by rhodamine-labeled antibodies against factor VIII-associated protein) and early adipocytes also had surface glycoproteins binding SBA, although its density on the latter cells was much less important. Thus, our data indicate that human marrow grafts processed with soybean lectin to remove T cells are also depleted of the cellular components of the marrow stroma.