The integrin heterodimer VLA-2, previously known as a collagen receptor, is now shown also to be a laminin receptor. Adhesion of the human melanoma cell line LOX to laminin was inhibited by anti-VLA alpha 2 antibodies. Because VLA-2-mediated LOX cell attachment to laminin was not inhibited by digestion with collagenase, collagen contamination of laminin was not a factor. In addition, VLA-2 from LOX cells bound to immobilized laminin, and binding was disrupted by EDTA but not by Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptides. VLA-3 also bound to laminin-Sepharose, although less avidly than VLA-2. Thus, at least four separate members of the integrin beta 1 subfamily serve as laminin receptors--i.e., VLA-2 and VLA-3 (this study) together with VLA-1 and VLA-6 (other reports). Whereas LOX and other cell lines used VLA-2 as both a laminin and collagen receptor, fibroblast VLA-2 mediated collagen but not laminin binding. Likewise, VLA-2 from platelets did not interact with laminin. Despite this functional discordancy, VLA-2 from laminin-binding and nonbinding sources was indistinguishable by all immunochemical and biochemical criteria examined. Thus, functional differences in VLA-2 may be due to cell type-specific modulation.