Acidic extracellular pH is a common feature of tumor tissues. We have reported that culturing cells at acidic pH (5.4-6.5) induced matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression through phospholipase D, extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases and nuclear factor-kappaB. Here, we show that acidic extracellular pH signaling involves both pathways of phospholipase D triggered by Ca2+ influx and acidic sphingomyelinase in mouse B16 melanoma cells. We found that BAPTA-AM [1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)-ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid tetrakis (acetoxymethyl) ester], a chelator of intracellular free calcium, and the voltage dependent Ca2+ channel blockers, mibefradil (for T-type) and nimodipine (for L-type), dose-dependently inhibited acidic extracellular pH-induced matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression. Intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) was transiently elevated by acidic extracellular pH, and this [Ca2+]i elevation was repressed by EGTA and the voltage dependent Ca2+ channel blockers but not by phospholipase C inhibitor, suggesting that acidic extracellular pH increased [Ca2+]i through voltage dependent Ca2+ channel. In contrast, SR33557, an L-type voltage dependent Ca2+ channel blocker and acidic sphingomyelinase inhibitor, attenuated matrix metalloproteinase-9 induction but did not affect calcium influx. We found that acidic sphingomyelinase activity was induced by acidic extracellular pH and that the specific acidic sphingomyelinase inhibitors (perhexiline and desipramine) and siRNA targeting aSMase/smpd1 could inhibit acidic extracellular pH-induced matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression. BAPTA-AM reduced acidic extracellular pH-induced phospholipase D but not acidic sphingomyelinase acitivity. The acidic sphingomyelinase inhibitors did not affect the phosphorylation of extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 and p38, but they suppressed nuclear factor-kappaB activity. These data suggest that the calcium influx-triggered phospholipase D and acidic sphingomyelinase pathways of acidic extracellular pH induced matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression, at least in part, through nuclear factor-kappaB activation.