BACKGROUND: In many cell types, microtubules are thought to direct the spatial distribution of F-actin in cell polarity. Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells exhibit a regulated program of polarized cell growth: after cell division, they grow first in a monopolar manner at the old end, and in G2 phase, initiate growth at the previous cell division site (the new end). The role of microtubule ends in cell polarity is highlighted by the finding that the cell polarity factor, tea1p, is present on microtubule plus ends and cell tips . RESULTS: Here, we characterize S. pombe bud6p/fat1p, a homolog of S. cerevisiae Bud6/Aip3. bud6Delta mutant cells have a specific defect in the efficient initiation of growth at the new end and like tea1Delta cells, form T-shaped cells in a cdc11 background. Bud6-GFP localizes to both cell tips and the cytokinesis ring. Maintenance of cell tip localization is dependent upon actin but not microtubules. Bud6-GFP localization is tea1p dependent, and tea1p localization is not bud6p dependent. tea1Delta and bud6Delta cells generally grow in a monopolar manner but exhibit different growth patterns. tea1(Delta)bud6Delta mutants resemble tea1Delta mutants. Tea1p and bud6p coimmunoprecipitate and comigrate in large complexes. CONCLUSIONS: Our studies show that tea1p (a microtubule end-associated factor) and bud6p (an actin-associated factor) function in a common pathway, with bud6p downstream of tea1p. To our knowledge, bud6p is the first protein shown to interact physically with tea1p. These studies delineate a pathway for how microtubule plus ends function to polarize the actin cytoskeleton through actin-associated polarity factors.