Vascular endothelial cells recognize blood-borne circulating cells and allow them to extravasate in a tissue-specific manner. Because this property determines the selectivity of lymphocyte homing, it is fundamental in physiological as well as pathological processes (inflammation, autoimmune diseases, metastasis). As a tool to assess the molecular basis of endothelium selectivity, microvascular endothelial cell lines of distinct tissue origin were established. Endothelial cells, isolated from lymphoid tissues (lymph nodes and appendix) and from nonlymphoid immune sites--intestine, lung, and skin--were immortalized in vitro. Their general endothelial characteristics, such as the presence of von Willebrand factor (wWf), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), VE-cadherin, and the intracellular E-selectin, were preserved. This article shows that these cell lines display phenotypic characteristics related to their tissue origin. Hence, endothelial cells from lymph nodes expressed peripheral lymph node addressins (PNAds). Endothelial cells from nonlymphoid tissues were ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1) and CD49e positive, whereas P-selectin was not equally distributed among the cell lines. Endothelial cells from mucosal sites reacted with antibody against human MAdCAM-1 (mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule). In the adhesion test, lymphoid and myeloid cells adhere to endothelial cell lines in a distinct manner. These lines could be useful to study molecular mechanisms involved in tissue-specific cell-cell interaction.