Scirrhous gastric cancer is associated with abundant stroma and frequently develops into peritoneal carcinomatosis with malignant ascites. Although malignant ascites is among the most deadly diseases worldwide, its molecular pathogenesis is poorly understood. We investigated the role of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in the production of peritoneal carcinomatosis with malignant ascites. We examined three scirrhous and three non-scirrhous human gastric cancer cell lines for the production of peritoneal carcinomatosis in vivo and responses to HGF in vitro. Furthermore, clinical scirrhous gastric cancer specimens were examined for HGF production. Among the six cell lines examined, only two scirrhous cell lines (NUGC4 and GCIY) produced peritoneal carcinomatosis with massive ascites after intraperitoneal injection in nude mice. Their proliferation was stimulated by exogenous HGF in vitro. On the other hand, a non-scirrhous cell line, MKN45, with MET amplification generated peritoneal tumors but not ascites. MET tyrosine kinase inhibitors, crizotinib and TAS-115, inhibited HGF-stimulated proliferation of NUGC4 and GCIY as well as constitutive proliferation of MKN45. Furthermore, crizotinib and TAS-115 prolonged the survival of mice bearing established tumors by NUGC4 or MKN45. In clinical specimens, HGF was markedly produced by stromal fibroblasts. Malignant ascitic fluids from patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis contained high levels of HGF. Our results strongly suggest that paracrine HGF-induced activation of MET-mediated signaling pathways plays an important role in the pathogenesis of peritoneal carcinomatosis in scirrhous gastric cancer. Thus, MET signaling pathway may be a potential therapeutic target for peritoneal carcinomatosis of gastric cancer, even without MET amplification.