A bovine tropoelastin cDNA encoding exons 15-36 that includes the elastin-receptor binding site was expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein with Protein A from Staphylococcus aureus. After isolation of the fusion protein by affinity chromatography on Ig-Sepharose, the tropoelastin domain was separated from plasmid-pR1T2T-encoded Protein A (Protein A') by CNBr cleavage. Cell-adhesion assays demonstrated specific adhesion to the recombinant tropoelastin. Furthermore, the data indicate that interactions involving the bovine elastin receptor mediate nuchal-ligament fibroblast adhesion to the recombinant protein. In agreement with earlier studies of fibroblast chemotaxis to bovine tropoelastin, nuchal-ligament fibroblast adhesion demonstrated developmental regulation of the elastin receptor.