The complex interactions of cells with extracellular matrix (ECM) play crucial roles in mediating and regulating many processes, including cell adhesion, migration, and signaling during morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis, wound healing, and tumorigenesis. Many of these interactions involve transmembrane integrin receptors. Integrins cluster in specific cell–matrix adhesions to provide dynamic links between extracellular and intracellular environments by bi-directional signaling and by organizing the ECM and intracellular cytoskeletal and signaling molecules. This mini review discusses these interconnections, including the roles of matrix properties such as composition, three-dimensionality, and porosity, the bi-directional functions of cellular contractility and matrix rigidity, and cell signaling. The review concludes by speculating on the application of this knowledge of cell–matrix interactions in the formation of cell adhesions, assembly of matrix, migration, and tumorigenesis to potential future therapeutic approaches. J. Cell. Physiol. 213:565–573. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.