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Focal adhesion formation in fibroblasts results from complex transmembrane signaling processes initiated by extracellular matrix molecules. Although a role for integrins with attendant tyrosine kinases has been established, there is evidence that cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are also involved with an associated role of protein kinase C. The identity of the proteoglycan has remained elusive, but we now report that syndecan 4 (ryudocan/amphiglycan) is present in focal adhesions of a number of cell types. Affinity-purified antibodies raised against a unique portion of the cytoplasmic domain of syndecan 4 core protein recognized an HSPG of similar characteristics to those of syndecan 4. These antibodies stained focal adhesions only after cell permeabilization and recognized differing mammalian species. Syndecan 4 was associated with focal adhesions that contained either beta 1 or beta 3 integrin subunits and those that formed on substrates of fibronectin, laminin, vitronectin, or type I collagen. No focal adhesions were found that were vinculin-containing but lacked syndecan 4. In contrast, syndecan 2, whose cytoplasmic domain is closely homologous to syndecan 4, does not appear to be a focal adhesion component. Thus, syndecan 4 represents a new transmembrane focal adhesion component, probably involved in their assembly.