Although osteopontin (OPN) is recognized generally as a secreted protein, an intracellular form of osteopontin (iOPN), associated with the CD44 complex, has been identified in migrating fibroblastic cells. Because both OPN and CD44 are expressed at high levels in osteoclasts, we have used double immunofluorescence analysis and confocal microscopy to determine whether colocalization of these proteins has functional significance in the formation and activity of osteoclasts. Analysis of rat bone marrow-derived osteoclasts revealed strong surface staining for CD44 and β1- and β3-integrins, whereas little or no staining for OPN or bone sialoprotein (BSP) was observed in nonpermeabilized cells. In permeabilized perfusion osteoclasts and multinucleated osteoclasts, staining for OPN and CD44 was prominent in cell processes, including filopodia and pseudopodia. Confocal microscopy revealed a high degree of colocalization of OPN with CD44 in motile osteoclasts. In cells treated with cycloheximide (CHX), perinuclear staining for OPN and BSP was lost, but iOPN staining was retained within cell processes. In osteoclasts generated from the OPN-null and CD44-null mice, cell spreading and protrusion of pseudopodia were reduced and cell fusion was impaired. Moreover, osteoclast motility and resorptive activity were significantly compromised. Although the area resorbed by OPN-null osteoclasts could be rescued partially by exogenous OPN, the resorption depth was not affected. These studies have identified an intracellular form of OPN, colocalizing with CD44 in cell processes, that appears to function in the formation and activity of osteoclasts.