Increased expression of the proteoglycan, versican is strongly associated with poor outcome for many different cancers. Depending on the cancer type, versican is expressed by either the cancer cells themselves or by stromal cells surrounding the tumor. Versican plays diverse roles in cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and angiogenesis, all features of invasion and metastasis. These wide ranging functions have been attributed to the central glycosaminoglycan-binding region of versican, and to the N-(G1) and C-(G3) terminal globular domains which collectively interact with a large number of extracellular matrix and cell surface structural components. Here we review the recently identified mechanisms responsible for the regulation of versican expression and the biological roles that versican plays in cancer invasion and metastasis. The regulation of versican expression may represent one mechanism whereby cancer cells alter their surrounding microenvironment to facilitate the malignant growth and invasion of several tumor types. A greater understanding of the regulation of versican expression may contribute to the development of therapeutic methods to inhibit versican function and tumor invasion.