We have shown previously that switching of the alpha v-associated beta1 and beta5 integrin subunits during differentiation of myelin-forming oligodendrocytes may regulate important aspects of cell behaviour such as migration (Milner et al., 1996: J Neurosci 16:7240-7252). In this study we have examined the developmental regulation of other alpha v-associated beta subunits in oligodendroglial cell cultures and also the control of their expression by neurons, using xenocultures to distinguish glial and neuronal integrins. We have found that oligodendroglia express alpha vbeta8 in addition to the previously-described alpha vbeta1, alpha vbeta3, and alpha vbeta5. Beta8 and beta3 together comprise the 80kD band seen in alpha v immunoprecipitations that represents the most abundant alpha v-associated beta subunit and show reciprocal patterns of expression during development. Alpha vbeta8 is expressed at high levels on oligodendrocyte precursors and differentiated oligodendrocytes but diminishes during the intermediate stages of differentiation. Alpha vbeta3, in contrast, shows an opposite pattern of expression, with the highest levels seen at the intermediate stages of differentiation and little expression on either oligodendrocyte precursors and differentiated oligodendrocytes. The expression of alpha vbeta3 is not altered by coculture with neurons, unlike that of alpha vbeta8, in which the decrease seen at the intermediate stages of differentiation is less marked in the presence of neurones. Our results confirm that switching of alpha v-associated beta subunits is an important feature of oligodendrocyte differentiation and suggest that alpha vbeta8 and alpha vbeta3 have distinct functions during myelination.