During tumor progression, malignant cells must repeatedly survive microenvironmental stress. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) signaling has emerged as one major pathway allowing cellular adaptation to stress. Recent findings led to the hypothesis that HIF-1alpha may enhance the metastatic potential of tumor cells by a survival-independent mechanism. So far it has not been shown that HIF-1alpha also directly regulates invasive processes during metastasis in addition to conferring a survival advantage to metastasizing tumor cells. In a hypoxia-tolerant tumor cell line (L-CI.5s), which did not rely on HIF-1 signaling for viability in vitro and in vivo, knockdown of Hif-1alpha reduced invasiveness of the tumor cells in vitro as well as extravasation and secondary infiltration in vivo. Liver metastases associated induction of proinvasive receptor tyrosine kinase Met phosphorylation as well as gelatinolytic activity were Hif-1alpha-dependent. Indeed, promoter activity of the matrix metalloproteinase-9 (mmp-9) was shown to be Hif-1alpha-dependent. This study uncovers a new survival-independent biological function of HIF-1alpha contributing to the efficacy of metastases formation.