The CD11b/CD18 leukocyte integrin molecule mediates diverse neutrophil adherence-related functions, including cell:cell and cell:extracellular matrix attachments. To study the individual role of this leukocyte integrin in cell adherence in hematopoietic cells, we expressed the CD11b/CD18 complex on the surface of K562 cells, a cell line derived from an individual with chronic myelogenous leukemia in blast crisis. We used an amphotrophic retroviral vector designated LCD18SN, harboring the complete coding sequence for the CD18 subunit, to transfer the CD18 cDNA into K562 cells and select stable cell lines. The CD11b subunit in the expression plasmid pREP4 was transfected into these K562/CD18 cells by electroporation and stable cell clones were selected. These K562 cells possessed RNA and intracellular protein for each subunit, and they expressed the CD11b/CD18 heterodimer on the cell surface. When CD11b/CD18 expressing K562 cells were stimulated with phorbol myristate acetate (50 ng/mL) for 24 to 48 hours, these K562 cells formed dense cell:cell aggregates. This homotypic aggregation required both activation of the CD11b/CD18 complex and the induction of the counter- receptor for CD11b/CD18 on the conjugate cell. This cell line will (1) enable the structure-function relationships between cell activation and homotypic adherence to be assessed, (2) provide the opportunity to identify accessory molecules required for activation of the CD11b/CD18 complex, and (3) facilitate the identification of novel ligands for the CD11b/CD18 complex.