Metastasis plays an important role in mortality of cancer patients. Migration and invasion are the major characteristics of tumor metastasis. The induction of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) such as MMP-2 and -9 are particularly important for the invasiveness of various cancer cells. Bufalin, a class of toxic steroids, was purified from the skin glands of Bufo gargarizans or Bufo melanostictus; it is known to inhibit proliferation of human cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the antiinvasive mechanisms of bufalin in the human hepatocellular cancer cell line SK-Hep1. Bufalin significantly reduced serum-induced cell invasion and migration. Furthermore, bufalin markedly inhibited MMP-2 and -9 activity, mRNA expression and protein levels in SK-Hep1 cells. Bufalin attenuated phosphoinisitide-3-kinase (PI3K) and phosphorylation of AKT which was associated with reduced levels of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB). Bufalin also suppressed protein levels of FAK and Rho A, VEGF, MEKK3, MKK7, and uPA and it diminished NF-κB translocation. Based on these observations, we propose that bufalin is acts as an antiinvasive agent by inhibiting MMP-2 and -9 and involving PI3K/AKT and NF-κB pathways. Bufalin is a potential therapeutic agent that may have efficacy in preventing the invasion and metastasis of malignant liver tumors. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 30: 74–82, 2015.