Osteoclast precursors are chemotactically attracted to sites of bone resorption via migration pathways that include transendothelial crossing in blood capillaries. Transendothelial migration involves poorly understood interactions with basal lamina molecules, including laminins. To investigate osteoclast-laminin interactions, we used human osteoclast-like cell lines obtained from giant cell tumors of bone (GCT 23 and GCT 24). These cell lines are a well-characterized model for osteoclast functions, such as bone resorption and the behaviour of osteoclast precursors. Both GCT cell lines adhered to laminin-2 (merosin) coated wells in standard adhesion assays, but failed to adhere to laminin-1 (EHS-laminin). By light microscopy, GCT cells on laminin-2 were partially spread, with a motile morphology. None of the anti-integrin antibodies tested inhibited GCT cells adhesion to laminin-2. Peptides containing the integrin adhesion site RGD or the laminin adhesion sequence IKVAV did not inhibit GCT cell adhesion to laminin-2. By immunofluorescence, beta 1 integrins were organized in focal adhesions. However, in the presence of monensin this reorganization of beta 1 integrins was abolished, indicating that it was probably due to secretion of fibronectin by GCT cells subsequent to adhesion to laminin-2. GCT cells transmigrated through membranes coated with laminin-2, much more efficiently than through membranes coated with collagen. Migration was induced by osteocalcin, as a chemoattractant, in a dose-dependent manner. At low osteocalcin concentrations, transmigration was detectable on laminin-2 but not collagen. In cells loaded with fura-2, a sharp increase in intracellular Ca2+ was detected upon addition of soluble laminin-2, but not laminin-1, due to release from thapsigargin-dependent intracellular stores. In summary, osteoclasts may recognize laminin isoforms differentially. Initial adhesion to laminin-2 appears to be due to integrin-independent mechanisms. Such adhesion, though, may trigger secretion of fibronectin that could then support spreading and efficient chemotactic migration. These mechanisms may play an important role in facilitating chemotactic migration of osteoclast precursors toward the bone surface.