Cell migration is crucial in virtually every biological process and strongly depends on the nature of the surrounding matrix. An assay that enables real-time studies on the effects of defined matrix components and growth factors on cell migration is not available. We have set up a novel, quantitative migration assay, which enables unharmed cells to migrate along a defined matrix. Here, we used this so-called barrier-assay to define the contribution of fibronectin (FN) and Collagen-I (Col-I) to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-induced cell migration of endothelial cells (EC) and fibroblasts. In EC, both FN and Col-I stimulated migration, but FN-induced motility was random, while net movement was inhibited. Addition of bFGF and VEGF overcame the effect of FN, with VEGF causing directional movement. In contrast, in 3T3 fibroblasts, FN stimulated motility and this effect was enhanced by bFGF. This motility was more efficient and morphologically completely different compared to LPA stimulation. Strikingly, directional migration of EC was not paralleled by higher amounts of stable microtubules (MT) or an increased reorientation of the microtubule-organizing centre (MTOC). For EC, the FN effect appeared concentration dependent; high FN was able to induce migration, while for fibroblasts both low and high concentrations of FN induced motility. Besides showing distinct responses of the different cells to the same factors, these results address contradictive reports on FN and show that the interplay between matrix components and growth factors determines both pattern and regulation of cell migration.