Protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt is known to promote cell migration, and this may contribute to the enhanced invasiveness of malignant cells. To elucidate potential mechanisms by which PKB/Akt promotes the migration phenotype, we have investigated its role in the endosomal transport and recycling of integrins. Whereas the internalization of alpha v beta 3 and alpha 5 beta 1 integrins and their transport to the recycling compartment were independent of PKB/Akt, the return of these integrins (but not internalized transferrin) to the plasma membrane was regulated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases and PKB/Akt. The blockade of integrin recycling and cell spreading on integrin ligands effected by inhibition of PKB/Akt was reversed by inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). Moreover, expression of nonphosphorylatable active GSK-3 beta mutant GSK-3 beta-A9 suppressed recycling of alpha 5 beta 1 and alpha v beta 3 and reduced cell spreading on ligands for these integrins, indicating that PKB/Akt promotes integrin recycling by phosphorylating and inactivating GSK-3. We propose that the ability of PKB/Akt to act via GSK-3 to promote the recycling of matrix receptors represents a key mechanism whereby integrin function and cell migration can be regulated by growth factors.