PECAM-1 is a 130-120-kD integral membrane glycoprotein found on the surface of platelets, at endothelial intercellular junctions in culture, and on cells of myeloid lineage. Previous studies have shown that it is a member of the immunoglobulin gene superfamily and that antibodies against the bovine form of this protein (endoCAM) can inhibit endothelial cell-cell interactions. These data suggest that PECAM-1 may function as a vascular cell adhesion molecule. The function of this molecule has been further evaluated by transfecting cells with a full-length PECAM-1 cDNA. Transfected COS-7, mouse 3T3 and L cells expressed a 130-120-kD glycoprotein on their cell surface that reacted with anti-PECAM-1 polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. COS-7 and 3T3 cell transfectants formed cell-cell junctions that were highly enriched in PECAM-1, reminiscent of its distribution at endothelial cell-cell borders. In contrast, this protein remained diffusely distributed within the plasma membrane of PECAM-1 transfected cells that were in contact with mock transfectants. Mouse L cells stably transfected with PECAM-1 demonstrated calcium-dependent aggregation that was inhibited by anti-PECAM antibodies. These results demonstrate that PECAM-1 mediates cell-cell adhesion and support the idea that it may be involved in some of the interactive events taking place during thrombosis, wound healing, and angiogenesis.