The malignant behavior of cancers depends on the microenvironmental context. We investigated compositional alterations of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in pancreatic cancer, with special emphasis on the proteoglycans decorin, lumican, and versican. Compared with normal controls (n=18), marked overexpression of these proteoglycans was observed in pancreatic cancer tissues (n=30) by quantitative RT-PCR (p<0.0001). Immunohistochemistry revealed abundance of proteoglycans in the ECM of pancreatic cancer specimens, whereas tumor cells themselves were devoid of either decorin, lumican or versican. RT-PCR confirmed pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) as the major source of these proteins. Interestingly, TGFbeta1 and conditioned medium derived from pancreatic cancer cell lines synergistically suppressed the expression of known anti-tumor factors decorin and lumican, but stimulated the expression of pro-metastatic factor versican in cultured PSCs. These findings indicate that malignant cells can actively influence the composition of the ECM through TGFbeta1 and other soluble factors, altering their microenvironment in a tumor-favorable way.