WE have investigated the role of cytoskeletal contraction in the capping of surface proteins crosslinked by concanavalin A on mutant Dictyostelium cells lacking conventional myosin. Measurements of cellular deformability to indicate the development of cortical tension show that cells of the wild-type parental strain, AX4, stiffen early during capping and relax back towards the softer resting state as the process is completed. Mutant cells lacking myosin (mhcA-) have a lower resting-state stiffness, and fail to stiffen and to cap crosslinked proteins on binding concanavalin A. Hence conventional myosin is essential both for capping and for the concomitant increase in cell stiffness. Furthermore, depletion of cellular ATP by azide causes a 'rigor' contraction in AX4 cells which makes thenustiffen and become spherical. By contrast, the mhcA- cells fail to respond in these ways. These measurements of cortical tension in non-muscle cells can thus be directly correlated with the presence of conventional myosin, demonstrating that contractile tension generated by myosin can drive both a change of cell shape and the capping of crosslinked surface receptors.