Here we report that myeloid cells differentiating along the monocyte/macrophage lineage down-regulate the ST6Gal-I sialyltransferase via a protein kinase C/Ras/ERK signaling cascade. In consequence, the β1 integrin subunit becomes hyposialylated, which stimulates the ligand binding activity of α5β1 fibronectin receptors. Pharmacologic inhibitors of protein kinase C, Ras, and MEK, but not phosphoinositide 3-kinase, block ST6Gal-I down-regulation, integrin hyposialylation, and fibronectin binding. In contrast, constitutively active MEK stimulates these same events, indicating that ERK is both a necessary and sufficient activator of hyposialylation-dependent integrin activation. Consistent with the enhanced activity of hyposialylated cell surface integrins, purified α5β1 receptors bind fibronectin more strongly upon enzymatic desialylation, an effect completely reversed by resialylation of these integrins with recombinant ST6Gal-I. Finally, we have mapped the N-glycosylation sites on the β1 integrin to better understand the potential effects of differential sialylation on integrin structure/function. Notably, there are three N-glycosylated sites within the β1 I-like domain, a region that plays a crucial role in ligand binding. Our collective results suggest that variant sialylation, induced by a specific signaling cascade, mediates the sustained increase in cell adhesiveness associated with monocytic differentiation. © 2005 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.