Osteoclasts are multinucleated cells of hemopoietic origin that are responsible for bone resorption during physiological bone remodeling and in a variety of bone diseases. Osteoclast development requires direct heterotypic cell-cell interactions of the hemopoietic osteoclast precursors with the neighboring osteoblast/stromal cells. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these heterotypic interactions are poorly understood. We isolated cadherin-6 isoform, denoted cadherin-6/2 from a cDNA library of human osteoclast-like cells. The isolated cadherin-6/2 is 3,423 bp in size consisting of an open reading frame of 2,115 bp, which encodes 705 amino acids. This isoform lacks 85 amino acids between positions 333 and 418 and contains 9 different amino acids in the extracellular domain compared with the previously described cadherin-6. The human osteoclast-like cells also expressed another isoform denoted cadherin-6/1 together with the cadherin-6. Introduction of cadherin-6/2 into L-cells that showed no cell-cell contact caused evident morphological changes accompanied with tight cell-cell association, indicating the cadherin-6/2 we isolated here is functional. Moreover, expression of dominant-negative or antisense cadherin-6/2 construct in bone marrow-derived mouse stromal ST2 cells, which express only cadherin- 6/2, markedly impaired their ability to support osteoclast formation in a mouse coculture model of osteoclastogenesis. Our results suggest that cadherin-6 may be a contributory molecule to the heterotypic interactions between the hemopoietic osteoclast cell lineage and osteoblast/bone marrow stromal cells required for the osteoclast differentiation. Since both osteoclasts and osteoblasts/bone marrow stromal cells are the primary cells controlling physiological bone remodeling, expression of cadherin-6 isoforms in these two cell types of different origin suggests a critical role of these molecules in the relationship of osteoclast precursors and cells of osteoblastic lineage within the bone microenvironment.