Alpha-defensin (alpha-defensin) has been identified as a potential marker for bladder cancer in urine by surface enhanced laser desorption ionization studies, and confirmed using both immunoabsorption and immunodepletion studies. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of alpha-defensin in bladder cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis of tissue sections showed that alpha-defensin peptides are frequently expressed in bladder cancer cells. It is noteworthy that expression of alpha-defensins increased with tumor invasiveness. Surface enhanced laser desorption ionization analysis showed the presence of alpha-defensin in the T24 and A498 cancer cell lines. These cell lines show higher classically aggressive in vitro characteristics compared with the J82 cells that did not express alpha-defensin. Exogenously added alpha-defensin increased the proliferation and motility/invasiveness of these cell lines using respective assays. It is interesting that alpha-defensin peptides increased intracellular calcium ions (Ca2+). These data are consistent with a role for alpha-defensin in bladder cancer via modulation of cell motility and invasiveness using common intracellular signals, such as Ca2+. We propose that autocrine tumor expression of alpha-defensins may play an important role in facilitating the invasive phenotype of bladder cancer in patients.