The VLA/integrins are a family of heterodimeric adhesion receptors shown to be involved in cell-to-cell and cell-to-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. Given recent evidence that VLA molecules can synergize with the CD3/T cell receptor (TCR) pathway to activate T cells, it is important to identify biochemical event(s) generated by these molecules. Here, we report that the engagement of VLA-4 on T cells with specific antibodies or its ligand activates protein-tyrosine kinase (PTK) activity as detected by antiphosphotyrosine immunoblotting. The crosslinking of VLA-beta 1 (CD29) with a specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) (anti-4B4) plus anti-mouse immunoglobulin resulted in the rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of a 105-kD protein (pp105) in the human T cell line H9, as well as in peripheral resting T cells. The increase in tyrosine phosphorylation of pp105 was specifically mediated by VLA-4, since mAbs against alpha 4, but not against other VLA alpha chains, could induce this phosphorylation. In addition, the binding of T cells with the CS1 alternatively spliced segment of fibronectin (the binding site recognized by VLA-4) induced pp105 tyrosine phosphorylation. Crosslinking the CD3 complex or VLA-4 molecules with mAbs demonstrated that each of these molecules stimulated the tyrosine phosphorylation of unique sets of proteins with different kinetics, suggesting that these two receptor systems are coupled to distinct PTKs. Since tyrosine phosphorylation of cellular proteins has been shown to be a crucial biochemical event in cell growth, our findings suggest that the induction of pp105 tyrosine phosphorylation via VLA-4 may play a role in the transduction of activation signals through this molecule.