We examined the roles of the extracellular domains of a gap junction protein and a cell adhesion molecule in gap junction and adherens junction formation by altering cell interactions with antibody Fab fragments. Using immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry we demonstrated that Novikoff cells contained the gap junction protein, connexin43 (Cx43), and the cell adhesion molecule, A-CAM (N-cadherin). Cells were dissociated in EDTA, allowed to recover, and reaggregated for 60 min in media containing Fab fragments prepared from a number of antibodies. We observed no cell-cell dye transfer 4 min after microinjection in 90% of the cell pairs treated with Fab fragments of antibodies for the first or second extracellular domain of Cx43, the second extracellular domain of connexin32 (Cx32) or A-CAM. Cell-cell dye transfer was detected within 30 s in cell pairs treated with control Fab fragments (pre-immune serum, antibodies to the rat major histocompatibility complex or the amino or carboxyl termii of Cx43). We observed no gap junctions by freeze-fracture EM and no adherens junctions by thin section EM between cells treated with the Fab fragments that blocked cell-cell dye transfer. Gap junctions were found on approximately 50% of the cells in control samples using freeze-fracture EM. We demonstrated with reaggregated Novikoff cells that: (a) functional interactions of the extracellular domains of the connexins were necessary for the formation of gap junction channels; (b) cell interactions mediated by A-CAM were required for gap junction assembly; and (c) Fab fragments of antibodies for A-CAM or connexin extracellular domains blocked adherens junction formation.