The surface morphology of attached and suspended normal and transformed fibroblasts has been studied with the scanning electron microscope. Normal murine fibroblasts (3T3) grow in vitro with widely extended leading lamellae. During most parts of the cell cycle the surfaces of these cells are practically free of microvilli. When the cells round up for mitosis, their cell surfaces become adorned with many microvilli. In contrast, simian virus 40-transformed fibroblasts (SV3T3) grow more compact, and their cell surfaces remain smooth throughout the life cycle. When confluent 3T3 and SV3T3 cells are suspended with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) for agglutination assays, similar differences in surface morphology are found: 3T3 cells always bear many microvilli, whereas most SV3T3 cells are essentially free of microvilli. The addition of concanavalin A (Con A) does not influence the surface morphology of the suspended cells. The morphological differences described here may be important for the agglutination process of the normal and transformed 3T3 cells, because they affect the real cell surface area and thus the density of Con A-binding sites.

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