Ca2+-dependent adhesion molecules, cadherins, are critically involved in the barrier formation of epithelial layers. Adhesive strength depends on both the plasmalemmal concentration and adhesive affinity (affinity for trans interaction) of cadherins. In the present study we used recombinant vascular endothelial cadherin, VE-cadherin, as a reference to quantify the surface concentration of VE-cadherin in mouse microvascular endothelial cells by linear interpolation and regression analysis of immunosignals obtained with cell lysates dotted on nitrocellulose membranes. The affinity of trans interaction was determined by a novel mobility shift assay, in which soluble dimeric VE-cadherin ectodomains pass through a VE-cadherin affinity column. By these approaches we determined the trypsin-sensitive surface concentration of VE-cadherin to be 5×103 dimers/µm2 cell surface and the dissociation constant K D to be about 0.8×10–4 M. The low affinity of trans interaction in combination with high plasmalemmal concentration of VE-cadherins fulfils theoretical predictions for regulation of adhesion by a transmembrane cooperative linkage mechanism, in which the degree of lateral mobility (translational entropy) of cadherins in the plasma membrane determines the number of adhesive bonds and, hence, the strength of intercellular adhesion.