Although polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are carcinogenic and have been extensively studied with regard to tumor formation, few studies have investigated the involvement of these environmental chemicals in tumor migration and invasion. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activate MAPK signal transduction. The p38 signaling transduction pathway, one of the most typical MAPK pathways, plays an essential role in regulating cell migration. Therefore, we investigated whether three PAHs, benzo[a]anthracene (B[a]A), benzo[k]fluoranthene (B[k]F), and indeno[1,2,3-c,d]pyrene (IND), induce migration in human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 through ROS-mediated p38 MAPK signal transduction. Reactive oxygen species generation and p38 MAPK activity both increased in a dose-dependent manner and were prevented by SB203580, an inhibitor of p38 MAPK, and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a ROS scavenger. Expression of migration-related genes was also increased by B[a]A, B[k]F, and IND in a dose-dependent manner and was inhibited by SB203580 and NAC. The migration of HepG2 cells, observed using the Transwell migration assay, also increased in a dose-dependent manner and was prevented by SB203580 and NAC. Our results indicate that the ROS-mediated p38 MAPK signaling pathway plays an essential role in the PAH-induced migration of HepG2 cells. (Cancer Sci 2011; 102: 1636–1644)