In this study, we demonstrated that bcl-2 overexpression in human melanoma cells consistently enhanced the activity of multiple metastasis-related proteinases, in vitro cell invasion, and in vivo tumor growth. In particular, by using the M14 parental cell line, the MN8 control clone, and two bcl-2 overexpressing derivatives, we found that bcl-2 overexpressing cells exposed to hypoxia, when compared to parental cells, expressed higher level of several metalloproteases (MMPs) such as MMP-2, MMP-7, MT1-MMP, and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteases-1 and -2. Moreover, bcl-2 overexpression in melanoma cells enhanced in vitro invasion on matrigel and, in vivo tumor growth. The more aggressive behavior of bcl-2 transfectants tumors is significantly associated to an increase in MMP-2 expression as well as in a more elevated microvessel density as compared to the parental line. Taken together, our data suggest that bcl-2 plays a pivotal role in the regulation of molecules associated with the migratory and invasive phenotype, contributing, in cooperation to hypoxia, to tumor progression. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.