Current data suggest that interplay between two classes of molecules contributes to the regulation of hematopoiesis: hematopoietic growth factors, which regulate the survival, proliferation, and development of primitive hematopoietic cells and cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), which are responsible for the localization of hematopoiesis to the bone marrow (BM) and for mediating physical association between developing hematopoietic cells and marrow stromal tissue. A range of cell surface molecules representing several CAM superfamilies including integrins, selectins, the immunoglobulin gene superfamily and an emerging family of mucin-like molecules (the sialomucins) are involved in supporting cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions between primitive hematopoietic cells and the stromal cell-mediated hematopoietic microenvironment (HM) of the bone marrow. There is abundant evidence in non-hematopoietic tissues that CAMs are signalling molecules which participate in a range of signal transduction events important not only for regulating cell adhesion and motility, but also for cell growth and survival. Although the signalling functions of CAMs have not been studied extensively in primitive hematopoietic progenitors (HPCs), extrapolation from burgeoning data in other systems is consistent with the hypothesis that hematopoiesis within the BM is regulated by interaction between signals generated locally by CAMs and those elicited by cytokines. Evidence in support of this notion was initially provided by studies on normal HPCs demonstrating cross-talk between members of the integrin superfamily and cytokine receptors. In this article we review recent reports that mucin-like molecules are also signalling molecules on primitive hematopoietic cells and that the signals they deliver potently inhibit hematopoiesis.