Tissue architecture in multicellular organisms is maintained through adhesive interactions between cells and their neighbors, and between cells and the underlying extracellular matrix. These interactions are important in the dynamic regulation of tissue organization as well as the control of cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. The ultimate goal of this regulation is to promote cell growth and differentiation only when the cell is in the correct location, and to delete cells that have become displaced from their proper environment. It therefore plays an important role in development and tissue remodeling. In this review we consider the molecular mechanisms by which cell-matrix interactions contribute to cell survival, and discuss their role in mammary gland development and function.