The localization of adult hemopoiesis to the marrow involves developmentally regulated interactions between hemopoietic stem cells and the stromal cell-mediated hemopoietic microenvironment. Although primitive hemopoietic cells exhibit a broad repertoire of adhesion molecules, little is known about the molecules influencing the site of cell lodgment within the marrow following transplantation. However, our recent studies indicate that hierarchically dependent patterns of migration of transplanted hemopoietic cells result in the retention of primitive cells within the endosteal and lineage-committed cells in the central marrow regions. Herein, we now demonstrate that these 2 subpopulations exhibit a striking difference in the expression of a cell surface adhesion molecule, with populations enriched for murine and human hemopoietic stem cells expressing the carbohydrate hyaluronic acid (HA). Furthermore, the presence of this glycosaminoglycan appears critical for the spatial distribution of transplanted stem cells in vivo. In addition, we also demonstrate that the binding of HA by a surrogate ligand results in marked inhibition of primitive hemopoietic cell proliferation and granulocyte differentiation. Collectively, these data describe an important yet previously unrecognized role for HA in the biology of primitive hemopoietic progenitor cells.