Cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions play important roles in embryonic development and in the maintenance of normal tissue architecture. Little is known, however, about the mechanisms of controlling cadherin dynamics at the cell surface. We previously demonstrated that E-cadherin functions as a cis (lateral)-dimer on the cell surface by chemical cross-linking. In this study, we examined the dynamics of E-cadherin cis-dimer formation during cell-cell adhesion assembly by using chemical cross-linking. Although treatment with cytochalasin D, a potent inhibitor of actin polymerization, was shown to inhibit the formation of cell-cell contacts, the dynamics of E-cadherin cis-dimer formation was not affected. This result indicated that the cis-dimer formation procedure is independent of cell-cell adhesion assembly in vivo. However, the cell aggregation and dissociation assays showed that the cytochalasin D treatment shifted the cadherin-based cell adhesion from a strong to a weak state. Taken together, these results strongly support the possibility that the E-cadherin cis-dimer is a minimal functional unit in cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion in vivo.