The proliferation and migration of arterial smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are key events in the vascular restenosis that frequently follows angioplasty. Furthermore, SMC migration and neointimal hyperplasia are promoted by degradation of the extracellular matrix by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Because we demonstrated previously that the proinflammatory and proatherogenic cytokine interleukin-18 (IL-18) stimulates SMC proliferation (Chandrasekar, B., Mummidi, S., Valente, A. J., Patel, D. N., Bailey, S. R., Freeman, G. L., Hatano, M., Tokuhisa, T., and Jensen, L. E. (2005) J. Biol. Chem. 280, 26263-26277), we investigated whether IL-18 induces SMC migration in an MMP-dependent manner and whether the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitor atorvastatin can inhibit this response. IL-18 treatment increased both mRNA and protein expression of MMP9 in human coronary artery SMCs. Gel shift, enzyme-linked immunosorbent, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed a strong induction of IL-18-mediated AP-1 (c-Fos, c-Jun, and Fra-1) and NF-kappaB (p50 and p65) activation and stimulation of MMP9 promoter-dependent reporter gene activity in an AP-1- and NF-kappaB-dependent manner. Ectopic expression of p65, c-Fos, c-Jun, and Fra-1 induced MMP9 promoter activity. Specific antisense or small interfering RNA reagents for these transcription factors reduced IL-18-mediated MMP9 transcription. Furthermore, IL-18 stimulated SMC migration in an MMP9-dependent manner. Atorvastatin effectively suppressed IL-18-mediated AP-1 and NF-kappaB activation, MMP9 expression, and SMC migration. Together, our results indicate for the first time that the proatherogenic cytokine IL-18 induces human coronary artery SMC migration in an MMP9-dependent manner. Atorvastatin inhibits IL-18-mediated aortic SMC migration and has therapeutic potential for attenuating the progression of atherosclerosis and restenosis.