In pressure-overloaded myocardium, our recent study demonstrated cytoskeletal assembly of c-Src and other signaling proteins which was partially mimicked in vitro using adult feline cardiomyocytes embedded in three-dimensional (3D) collagen matrix and stimulated with an integrin-binding Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptide. In the present study, we improved this model further to activate c-Src and obtain a full assembly of the focal adhesion complex (FAC), and characterized c-Src localization and integrin subtype(s) involved. RGD dose response experiments revealed that c-Src activation occurs subsequent to its cytoskeletal recruitment and is accompanied by p130Cas cytoskeletal binding and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) Tyr925 phosphorylation. When cardiomyocytes expressing hexahistidine-tagged c-Src via adenoviral gene delivery were used for RGD stimulation, the expressed c-Src exhibited relocation: (i) biochemical analysis revealed c-Src movement from the detergent-soluble to the -insoluble cytoskeletal fraction and (ii) confocal microscopic analysis showed c-Src movement from a nuclear/perinuclear to a sarcolemmal region. RGD treatment also caused sarcolemmal co-localization of FAK and vinculin. Characterization of integrin subtypes revealed that β3, but not β1, integrin plays a predominant role: (i) expression of cytoplasmic domain of β1A integrin did not affect the RGD-stimulated FAC formation and (ii) both pressure-overloaded myocardium and RGD-stimulated cardiomyocytes exhibited phosphorylation of β3 integrin at Tyr773/785 sites but not β1 integrin at Thr788/789 sites. Together these data indicate that RGD treatment in cardiomyocytes causes β3 integrin activation and c-Src sarcolemmal localization, that subsequent c-Src activation is accompanied by p130Cas binding and FAK Tyr925 phosphorylation, and that these events might be crucial for growth and remodeling of hypertrophying adult cardiomyocytes. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.