Leukocytes utilize urokinase receptors (uPAR; CD87) in adhesion, migration, and matrix proteolysis. uPAR aggregate at cell-substratum interfaces and at leading edges of migrating cells, so this study was undertaken to determine whether uPAR aggregation is capable of initiating activation signaling. Monocyte-like U937 cells were labeled with fluo-3-acetoxymethyl ester to quantitate intracellular Ca2+ concentrations ([Ca2+]i) by spectrofluorometry, and uPAR was aggregated by mAb cross-linking. uPAR aggregation induced highly reproducible increases in [Ca2+]i of 103.0 +/- 10.9 nM (p < 0.0001) and >3-fold increases in cellular d-myoinositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (Ins(1,4,5)P3) levels. Similar increases in [Ca2+]i were also elicited by uPAR aggregation in human monocytes, but cross-linking a control IgG2a had no effect on [Ca2+]i. Selectively cross-linking uPA-occupied uPAR with an anti-uPA mAb produced smaller increases in [Ca2+]i, but fully saturating uPAR with exogenous uPA enhanced the [Ca2+]i response to equal the effect of aggregating uPAR directly. Increased [Ca2+]i was inhibited by thapsigargin, herbimycin A, and U73122, but only partially reduced by low extracellular [Ca2+], indicating that uPAR aggregation increases [Ca2+]i by activating phospholipase C through a tyrosine kinase-dependent mechanism, generating Ins(1,4,5)P3 and releasing Ca2+ from Ins(1,4, 5)P3-sensitive intracellular stores. Cross-linking the beta2 integrin CR3 could not duplicate the effect of uPAR cross-linking, and uPAR-triggered Ca2+ mobilization was not blocked by anti-CR3 mAbs. These results indicate that uPAR aggregation initiates phosphoinositide hydrolysis by mechanisms that are not strictly dependent on associated uPA or CR3.