Although many of the receptors mediating neutrophil (polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN)) adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins have been identified, the signal transduction pathways leading to cell spreading are not clearly defined. Studies showing that protein tyrosine phosphorylation increases with PMN adhesion suggest that phosphorylation is critical for adhesion-dependent processes. In other cells, increased tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin are thought to play pivotal roles in ECM-mediated signaling. In the present study we compared the tyrosine phosphorylation of FAK and paxillin in PMNs plated onto thrombospondin (TSP) or laminin (LN). Increased tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin correlated with adhesion and spreading of PMNs plated onto LN or TSP. In PMNs adherent to LN, the kinetics of FAK phosphorylation preceded the kinetics of paxillin phosphorylation, suggesting that paxillin may be a downstream target of FAK. In contrast, FAK was not phosphorylated in PMNs spread on TSP. These findings suggested activation of different signaling pathways in TSP- vs LN-adherent PMNs. Others have proposed that paxillin phosphorylation requires beta2 integrins. Therefore, we used PMNs from a patient with leukocyte adhesion deficiency (LAD), lacking beta2 integrins, to determine whether these receptors were necessary for paxillin phosphorylation. LAD PMNs did not adhere to LN, and consequently, there was no tyrosine phosphorylation of FAK or paxillin. In contrast, paxillin, but not FAK, was phosphorylated in LAD PMNs adherent and spread on TSP. These results indicate that ECM-beta2 integrin-mediated signaling initiates the FAK/paxillin signaling pathway(s), while TSP-mediated signaling results in paxillin phosphorylation independent of FAK phosphorylation.