The αvβ3 integrin participates in cell morphogenesis, growth factor signaling, and cell survival. Activation of the integrin is central to these processes and is influenced by specific ECM components, which engage both integrins and syndecans. This paper demonstrates that the αvβ3 integrin and syndecan-1 (S1) are functionally coupled. The integrin is dependent on the syndecan to become activated and to mediate signals required for MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-435 human mammary carcinoma cell spreading on vitronectin or S1-specific antibody. Coupling of the syndecan to αvβ3 requires the S1 ectodomain (ED), as ectopic expression of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked S1ED enhances αvβ3 recognition of vitronectin; and treatments that target this domain, including competition with recombinant S1ED protein or anti-S1ED antibodies, mutation of the S1ED, or down-regulation of S1 expression by small-interfering RNAs, disrupt αvβ 3-dependent cell spreading and migration. Thus, S1 is likely to be a critical regulator of many cellular behaviors that depend on activated αvβ3 integrins.