The functional activity of lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) on leukocytes can be regulated by T-cell receptor (TCR) stimulation and pharmacologic agents. It was of interest to determine if functionally active LFA-1 could be reconstituted on a nonhematopoietic, LFA-1-negative cell line. We report the expression of LFA-1 and diethylaminoethyl (DEAE) Mac-1 αβ heterodimers on the cell surface of a fibroblastoid cell line, COS, by DEAE dextran cotransfection of the α and β subunit cDNAs. Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that the α and β subunits were associated in heterodimers. The α or β subunit was expressed at lower levels after transfection with the α or β subunit cDNA alone. Cotransfection of the α and β subunit cDNAs, but not transfection of α or β alone, was sufficient to reconstitute intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) binding activity. Consistent with this observation, LFA-1 on the fibroblastoid cells possesses the activation epitope defined by the L16 monoclonal antibody (mAb). This epitope marks the conversion of LFA-1 from the low to high avidity state on peripheral blood T lymphocytes (PBLs) and is constitutively present on activated cell lines. In contrast to LFA-1 on leukocytes, the functional activity of LFA-1 on fibroblastoid cells was not influenced by phorbol ester treatment. Furthermore, the use of agents that interfere with intracellular signaling, a protein kinase C inhibitor, cAMP analogue, or the combination of a phosphodiesterase inhibitor and adenyl cyclase activator, did not affect the binding of COS cells expressing LFA-1 to purified ICAM-1.