Studies of selective adhesion of biological molecules provide a path for understanding fundamental cellular properties. A useful technique is to use patterned substrates, where the pattern of interest has the same length scale as the molecular bonding sites of a cell, in the tens of nanometer range. We employ electrochemical methods to grow anodic alumina, which has a naturally ordered pore structure (interpore spacing of 40 to 400 nm) controlled by the anodization potential. We have also developed methods to selectively fill the alumina pores with materials with contrasting properties. Gold, for example, is electrochemically plated into the pores, and the excess material is removed by backsputter etching. The result is a patterned surface with closely separated islands of Au, surrounded by hydrophilic alumina. The pore spacing, which is determined by fabrication parameters, is hypothesized to have a direct effect on the spatial density of adhesion sites. By attaching adhesive molecules to the Au islands, we are able to observe and study cell rolling and adhesion phenomena. Through the measurements it is possible to estimate the length scale of receptor clusters on the cell surface. This information is useful in understanding mechanisms of leukocytes adhesion to endothelial cells as well as the effect of adhesion molecules adaptation on transmission of extracellular forces. The method also has applications in tissue engineering, drug and gene delivery, cell signaling and biocompatibility design.