The purpose of the present study was to examine the expression of interleukin (IL)-8 and IL-8 receptors and to evaluate the effects of IL-8 on human pancreatic cancer. We examined the expression of IL-8 and its two receptors (CXCR1 and CXCR2) in 40 surgically resected human pancreatic cancer tissues and in three different human pancreatic cancer cell lines (PANC-1, MIAPaCa-2 and Capan-2). The immunohistochemical analysis using specific antibodies demonstrated that positive staining for IL-8, CXCR1 and CXCR2 in surgically resected human pancreatic cancer was 50, 55 and 65%, respectively. Moreover, 40% of these cases were positive for both IL-8 and IL-8 receptors. In contrast, immunoreactive signals for those proteins were extremely suppressed in normal pancreatic tissues. All of the pancreatic cancer cell lines expressed IL-8 and IL-8 receptors at the RNA and protein levels. Receptor binding experiments using 125I-labeled IL-8 showed that PANC-1 cells had specific binding sites for IL-8. The cell proliferation assay demonstrated that IL-8 did not affect the growth of the three cell lines. However, treatment with IL-8 enhanced the invasiveness into Matrigel and increased the activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 in supernatants of the PANC-1 cells. These results demonstrate that IL-8 and IL-8 receptors are over-expressed in pancreatic cancer, and suggest that IL-8 regulates MMP-2 activity and plays an important role in the invasiveness of human pancreatic cancer.