Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, induce apoptosis and decrease tumor metastasis. We have previously reported that a NSAID NS398 repressed the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) via inhibition of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway. In this study, we investigate the underlying mechanism of this inhibition. In vitro kinase assay indicated that NS398 could not directly inhibit c-Raf, MEK1 and ERK enzymatic activity. We found that NS398 increased the inhibitory phosphorylation of Ser259 in c-Raf, attenuated membrane recruitment of c-Raf and inhibited Ras/c-Raf interaction to attenuate activation of this kinase. This is a general effect for NSAIDs because sulindac sulfide, aspirin and indomethacin also inhibited the binding of c-Raf to Ras. Immunofluorescent staining verified that NS398 reduced the serum-induced membrane recruitment of c-Raf in cells. However, overexpression of constitutively active c-Raf only partly reversed NS398-induced inhibition of MMP-2 expression. Interestingly, we found that NS398 up-regulated the expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) and MKP-3. Block of MKP activity by sodium orthovanadate also partly counteracted the inhibitory effect of NS398. Overexpression of constitutively active c-Raf and treatment of sodium orthovanadate together completely reversed the inhibition of MMP-2 by NS398. Taken together, we conclude that NS398 and other NSAIDs act via inhibition of Ras/c-Raf interaction and up-regulation of MKPs to suppress the ERK-mediated signaling.