This paper describes a convenient methodology for patterning substrates for cell culture that allows the positions and dimensions of attached cells to be controlled. The method uses self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of terminally substituted alkanethiolates (R(CH2)11-15S-) adsorbed on optically transparent films of gold or silver to control the properties of the substrates. SAMs terminated in methyl groups adsorb protein and SAMs terminated in oligo(ethylene glycol) groups resist entirely the adsorption of protein. This methodology uses microcontact printing (microCP)-an experimentally simple, nonphotolithographic process-to pattern the formation of SAMs at the micrometer scale; microCP uses an elastomeric stamp having at its surface a pattern in relief to transfer an alkanethiol to a surface of gold or silver in the same pattern. Patterned SAMs having hydrophobic, methyl-terminated lines 10, 30, 60, and 90 microm in width and separated by protein-resistant regions 120 microm in width were prepared and coated with fibronectin; the protein adsorbed only to the methyl-terminated regions. Bovine capillary endothelial cells attached only to the fibronectin-coated, methyl-terminated regions of the patterned SAMs. The cells remained attached to the SAMs and confined to the pattern of underlying SAMs for at least 5-7 days. Because the substrates are optically transparent, cells could be visualized by inverted microscopy and by fluorescence microscopy after fixing and staining with fluorescein-labeled phalloidin.