The aim of this study was to investigate whether tumor cells as well as tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) contribute to the generation of protease activities essential to tumor cell invasiveness, such as matrix metalloproteinase 2 and 9 (MMP-2 and MMP-9), and the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and uPA receptor (uPAR). We found that the enhanced invasiveness through Matrigel-coated filters of B16 murine melanoma cells stimulated with IFNgamma was associated with an higher expression of uPAR and MMP-9 in these cells. Moreover, treatment with anti-MMP-9 or anti-uPAR monoclonal antibodies abrogated the increase of invasiveness in IFNgamma-stimulated melanoma cells, suggesting a cooperation of uPA system and MMP-9 in cytokine-stimulated invasiveness. Invasiveness through Matrigel was also enhanced in B16 melanoma cells exposed to a medium conditioned by TAMs, represented in our experimental model by thioglycollate-elicited macrophages co-cultivated with melanoma cells. Macrophages isolated from these co-cultures were found to express higher levels of uPAR and MMP-9 compared to macrophage cultures alone, and the pro-invasive activity of the co-culture-conditioned medium was abrogated by anti-MMP-9 monoclonal antibodies, but not anti-uPAR monoclonal antibodies. Furthermore, the enhanced uPAR and MMP-9 expression in macrophages co-cultivated with tumor cells seems a rather specific phenomenon, generated through a cell-to-cell contact mechanism. On the whole, our data point to a cooperation between tumor cells and macrophages elicited by tumor cells themselves in generating key enzymes essential in the promotion of tumor invasiveness, such as uPAR and MMP-9.