Leukocyte extravasation is mediated by multiple interactions of adhesive surface structures with ligands on endothelial cells and matrix components. The functional role of beta 1 (CD29) integrins (or very late antigen [VLA] proteins) in eosinophil migration across polycarbonate filters was examined under several in vitro conditions. Eosinophil migration induced by the chemoattractant C5a or platelet-activating factor was fully inhibited by monoclonal antibody (mAb) 8A2, a recently characterized "activating" CD29 mAb. However, inhibition by mAb 8A2 was observed only under filter conditions that best reflected the in vivo situation, i.e., when the eosinophils migrated over filters preincubated with the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein fibronectin (FN), or when the filters were covered with confluent monolayers of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). When bare untreated filters were used, mAb 8A2 had no effect, whereas the C5a-directed movement was prevented by CD18 mAb. Studies with alpha-subunit (CD49)-specific mAbs indicated that the integrins VLA-4 and -5 mediated migration across FN-preincubated filters, and VLA-2, -4, -5, and -6 were involved in eosinophil migration through filters covered with HUVEC. In contrast with the activating CD29 mAb 8A2, a combination of blocking CD49 mAbs or the nonactivating but blocking CD29 mAb AIIB2 failed to inhibit completely eosinophil migration over FN-preincubated or HUVEC-covered filters. mAb 8A2 stimulated binding to FN but not to HUVEC. Moreover, eosinophil migration over FN-preincubated or HUVEC-covered filters was significantly inhibited by anti-connecting segment 1 (CS-1) mAbs, as well as the soluble CS-1 peptide (unlike migration across bare untreated filters). Thus, inhibition of eosinophil migration by mAb 8A2 depended upon the presence of ECM proteins and not upon the presence of HUVEC per se. In conclusion, "freezing" adhesion receptors of the beta 1 integrin family into their high-avidity binding state by the activating CD29 mAb 8A2 results in a complete inhibition of eosinophil migration under physiological conditions. Hence, activation of beta 1 integrin-mediated cell adhesion may represent a new approach to prevent influx of inflammatory cells.