Human tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitor that inhibits plasmin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, cathepsin G, and plasma kallikrein but not urokinase-type plasminogen activator, tissue plasminogen activator, or thrombin. Preliminary findings in our laboratory suggested that the expression of TFPI-2 is downregulated or lost during tumor progression in human gliomas. To investigate the role of TFPI-2 in the invasiveness of brain tumors, we stably transfected the human high-grade glioma cell line SNB19 and the human low-grade glioma cell line Hs683 with a vector capable of expressing a transcript complementary to the full-length TFPI-2 mRNA in either sense (0.7 kb) or antisense (1 kb) orientations. Parental cells and stably transfected cell lines were analysed for TFPI-2 protein by Western blotting and for TFPI-2 mRNA by Northern blotting. The levels of TFPI-2 protein and mRNA were higher in the sense clones (SNB19) and decreased in the antisense (Hs683) clones than in the corresponding parental and vector controls. In spheroid and matrigel invasion assays, the SNB19 parental cells were highly invasive, but the sense-transfected SNB-19 clones were much less invasive; the antisense-transfected Hs683 clones were more invasive than their parental and vector controls. After intracerebral injection in mice, the sense-transfected SNB19 clones were less able to form tumors than were their parental and vector controls, and the antisense-Hs683 clones but not the parental or vector controls formed small tumors. This is the first study to demonstrate that down- or upregulation of TFPI-2 plays a significant role in the invasive behavior of human gliomas.