Laminins, the main components of basement membranes, are heterotrimers consisting of α, β, and γ polypeptide chains linked together by disulfide bonds. Laminins-1 and -2 are both composed of β1 and γ1 chains and differ from each other on their α chain, which is α1 and α2 for laminin-1 and - 2, respectively. The present study shows that whereas laminins-1 and -2 are synthesized in the mouse developing lung and in epithelial-mesenchymal cocultures derived from it, epithelial and mesenchymal monocultures lose their ability to synthesize the laminin α1 chain. Synthesis of laminin α1 chain however returns upon re-establishment of epithelial-mesenchymal contact. Cell-cell contact is critical, since laminin α1 chain is not detected in monocultures exposed to coculture-conditioned medium or in epithelial-mesenchymal cocultures in which heterotypic cell-cell contact is prevented by an interposing filter. Immunohistochemical studies on cocultures treated with brefeldin A, an inhibitor of protein secretion, indicated both epithelial and mesenchymal cells synthesize laminin α chain upon heterotypic cell-cell contact. In a set of functional studies, embryonic lung explants were cultured in the presence of monoclonal antibodies to laminin α1, α2, and β/γ chains. Lung explants exposed to monoclonal antibodies to laminin α1 chain exhibited alterations in peribronchial cell shape and decreased smooth muscle development, as indicated by low levels of smooth muscle α actin and desmin. Taken together, our studies suggest that laminin α1 chain synthesis is regulated by epithelial-mesenchymal interaction and may play a role in airway smooth muscle development.