L-14, a dimeric lactose-binding lectin with subunits of 14 kD, is expressed in a wide range of vertebrate tissues. Several functions have been postulated for this lectin, but definitive evidence for a specific biological role has been elusive. In muscle, L-14 is secreted during differentiation and accumulates with laminin in basement membrane surrounding each myofiber. Here we present evidence that laminin is a major glycoprotein ligand for L-14 in differentiating mouse C2C12 muscle cells and that binding of secreted L-14 to polylactosamine oligosaccharides of substrate laminin induces loss of cell-substratum adhesion. These results suggest that one function of L-14 is to regulate myoblast detachment from laminin during differentiation and fusion into tubular myofibers.