The influence of extracellular matrix (Matrigel), collagen, and polylysine substrates on cell attachment and differentiation in 3T3-F442A preadipocytes was investigated. In comparison to an uncoated-polystyrene substrate, a concentrated Matrigel substrate (100 μg/cm2) markedly increased intracellular lipid level by about 30%, whereas a lower density Matrigel (10 μg/cm2) accelerated the differentiation rate but did not increase the amount of lipid 21 days after addition of adipogenic factors. Preadipocytes on the collagen surface differentiated less extensively than cells on the polystyrene. Polylysine did not effectively support attachment for either differentiated or undifferentiated cells. These results suggest that Matrigel provides the most suitable environment for both cell adhesion and differentiation for 3T3-F442A cells. This is in contrast to a previous report that extracellular matrix (from corneal endothelial cells) was detrimental to differentiation of 3T3-F442A cells. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 78: 454–458, 2002.