The matricellular protein SPARC (also known as osteonectin and BM-40) is expressed abundantly in lens epithelium. That SPARC-null mice exhibit early cataractogenesis, indicates a role for SPARC in the maintenance of lens transparency. Comparison of cultured wild-type and SPARC-null lens epithelial cells revealed significant changes in adhesion to different substrates. SPARC-null lens cells displayed enhanced attachment and spreading, focal adhesion formation, and resistance to trypsin detachment in comparison to wild-type cells. In the absence of SPARC, there was increased deposition of the ECM protein laminin-1 (LN-1). Proteins associated with focal adhesions were increased in SPARC-null versus wild-type lens cells: levels of α6-integrin heterodimers, talin, and paxillin phosphorylated on tyrosine were enhanced significantly, as was the association of β1-integrin with talin and paxillin. Restoration of the wild-type phenotype in SPARC-null cultures was accomplished through genetic rescue by stable transfection of SPARC cDNA. Our findings indicate that SPARC is counter-adhesive for murine lens epithelial cells and demonstrate that multiple factors contribute to this activity. We also identify SPARC as a modulator of LN-1 secretion and deposition by these cells, an activity important in epithelial cell-ECM interactions in the ocular lens. J. Cell. Biochem. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.