The expression of adhesion molecules on human tonsillar follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) in the secondary lymphoid follicle (LF) in vivo and in vitro was investigated using cryostat sections and cytospin preparations of FDCs isolated with a magnetic cell sorter, respectively. FDCs were immunochemically positive for Mac-1 (CD11b), sialyl-Lex (CD15s), CD22, integrin beta 1 (CD29), CD40, very late activation antigen (VLA)-alpha 3 (CD49c), VLA-alpha 5 (CD49e), VLA-alpha 6 (CD49f), intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-3 (CD50), ICAM-1 (CD54), B7 (CD80), and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 (CD106). With respect to ligands on B cells for these adhesion molecules, the CD11b-CD54, CD50-leukocyte function-associated molecule (LFA)-1 (CD11a/18), and CD106-VLA-4 (CD49d/29) interactions in the apical light (ALZ) and basal light (BLZ) zones; the CD15s-L-selectin (CD62L) and CD106-CD49d/29 interactions in the mantle zone; and the CD54-CD11a/18 interaction in the entire LF may participate in FDC-B cell adhesion. Namely, the adhesion molecules participating in FDC-B cell interactions may differ in each of the five zones. Furthermore, the immunochemical evidence that FDCs were fibronectin (VLA-5, CD49e/29) and laminin (VLA-6, CD49l/29) receptor-positive discussed above was confirmed by immunoelectron microscopy and binding assays. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed fibers surrounded by cytoplasmic FDC extensions that were CD29-, CD49e-, and CD49f-positive. In the binding assays, the numbers of FDCs bound to fibronectin- and laminin-coated dishes and LFs of cryostat sections of human tonsils were reduced markedly by pretreatment with monoclonal antibodies against CD29, CD49e, and CD49f. These data indicate clearly that FDCs bind to reticulin and laminin fibers in LFs via their respective receptors.