Human T lymphocytes carry a surface antigen, detectable by a monoclonal antifibronectin antibody, which appears to consist of 150 and 55 kd components as revealed by SDS-PAGE. After in vitro culture of the lymphocytes on a plastic substratum for 48 hr comparatively few cells (40 +/- 18% in separate individuals) express the antigen. In contrast, the vast majority of lymphocytes cultured on a collagen matrix for the same time period maintains surface expression of the antigen (76 +/- 14% in separate individuals). Conditioned media from lymphocytes on plastic contain substantial amounts of antigenicity detectable by the same antibody, whereas conditioned media from lymphocytes on collagen are devoid of such antigenicity. The expression at the cell surface of other T lymphocyte antigens (Leu-4, Leu-3, and OKT8) is identical during culture on plastic and collagen for 48 hr. Collagen does not activate the cells to DNA synthesis or expression of IL 2 receptors, and consequently the potentiation of antigen expression by this substratum cannot be attributed to a mitogenic effect. The composition of subsets of T lymphocytes and the viability of the cells are the same on plastic and collagen, which excludes that the substratum-dependent variations in antigenicity reflect selection or loss of antigen-bearing cells. Thus, substratum-dependent regulation of the expression at the cell surface appears to be a unique property of the 150/55 kd T cell surface antigen. Culture on collagen substrata augments the number of lymphocytes showing motile behavior two to four times compared with culture on plastic.