The activation of plasminogen at the cell surface is a crucial step in cell migration and invasion. In the present study, the effect of membrane-bound melanotransferrin (mMTf), also known as human melanoma antigen p97, on cell surface plasminogen binding and activation was investigated by using Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells transfected with full-length melanotransferrin (MTf) cDNA and SK-MeL-28 melanoma cells. The expression of mMTf in CHO increased cell surface plasminogen binding by about 2-fold. In addition, application of the monoclonal antibody L235 against MTf as well as truncated, soluble MTf (sMTf) abolished plasminogen binding to MTf-transfected and SK-MeL-28 cells, indicating that mMTf is a potential cell surface plasminogen receptor. Moreover, mMTf expression in CHO cells stimulates plasminogen activation at the cell surface by about 2.5-fold. In addition to the induced binding and activation of plasminogen, cell motility, migration and invasion were about 3-fold higher in CHO cells expressing mMTf. Both monoclonal antibody L235 and truncated sMTf inhibited mMTf-stimulated CHO cell motility, migration and invasion. Overall, our results indicate a key role for mMTf in cell surface plasminogen binding and in activation processes involved during cell migration and invasion.