The beta 2-integrin (CD18) family members bind to their ligands subsequent to activation of a number of well defined and diverse signal transduction pathways. The precise molecular changes associated with activation of the integrin family members have remained elusive. Here, we characterize a monoclonal, CBR LFA-1/2, that binds to the beta 2-subunit and is able to mimic activation induced upon stimulation by phorbol esters. The Ab induces binding of the LFA-1-expressing cell line, JY, to ICAM-1 (CD54) and ICAM-3 (CD50). Activation of binding by this Ab is independent of Fc interactions and does not occur through cross-linking at the cell surface, because the Fab fragment of the Ab is able to modulate the same effect. Stimulation of neutrophils with CBR LFA-1/2 induces binding to ICAM-1 through activation of both LFA-1 and Mac-1. Activation of Mac-1 by CBR LFA-1/2 was further confirmed by stimulation of neutrophil binding to fibrinogen, a ligand for Mac-1. CBR LFA-1/2 lowers by 10-fold the concentration of Mg2+ required to achieve maximal binding of LFA-1 to ICAM-1. It therefore appears that CBR LFA-1/2 induces a conformational change that directly increases the avidity of beta 2-integrins for ligands.