Interleukin-8 (IL-8; CXCL8) is a cytokine of the CXC chemokine family that is involved in neutrophil recruitment and activation. In addition, IL-8 has been implicated in a wide variety of other processes, including angiogenesis and metastasis in lung cancer. Lung adenocarcinoma and muco-epidermoid carcinoma cells produce substantial amounts of IL-8, and express both CXCR1 and CXCR2 IL-8 receptors. We hypothesized that IL-8 stimulates proliferation of non-small cell lung cancer cells, involving transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The EGFR plays a central role in regulating cell proliferation and it has been therefore implicated in lung cancer. Both EGFR ligands and transactivation of the receptor may lead to downstream signalling events, including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. Transactivation of the EGFR has been shown to occur in response to ligands of various G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and involves metalloproteinase-mediated release of membrane bound EGFR ligands. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of IL-8 on proliferation of lung adenocarcinoma and muco-epidermoid carcinoma cells, and to explore the mechanisms leading to this proliferation in two different non-small cell lung cancer cell lines (A549 and NCI-H292). In both NSCLC cell lines, we observed that IL-8 stimulates epithelial cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. The ability of IL-8 to increase cell proliferation was blocked both by an inhibitor of EGFR tyrosine kinase, by a specific anti-EGFR blocking antibody and by a panmetalloproteinase inhibitor. Similar results were obtained using the GPCR inhibitor pertussis toxin. Inhibition of the MAPK p42/44 (ERK1/2) also blocked the mitogenic effect of IL-8, while a p38 MAPK inhibitor did not affect IL-8-induced cell proliferation. These results suggest that IL-8 increases cell proliferation in NSCLC cell lines via transactivation of the EGFR and that this mechanism involves metalloproteinase activity.