Members of the Fos family (c-Fos, FosB and its smaller splice variants, Fra-1 and Fra-2) dimerise with Jun proteins to form the AP-1 transcription factor complex. Based on the rapidly growing amount of data from experimental studies, animal models and investigations on clinical tumour samples, this review summarises the current knowledge about the role of these proteins in carcinogenesis. In addition to c-Fos, which has oncogenic activity and is frequently overexpressed in tumour cells, Fra-1 seems to play a role in the progression of many carcinomas. The results obtained from various studies show different implications for these transcription factors according to tumour type, i.e., Fra-1 overexpression enhances the motility and invasion of breast and colorectal cancer cells, but inhibits the tumourigenicity of cervical carcinoma cell lines. Knowledge about regulation of invasion and metastasis in different malignant tumours in vivo might open promising perspectives to targeted therapeutic approaches.