Reduced expression of the nm23 gene in certain rodent model systems and human breast tumors has been correlated with high tumor metastatic potential. To investigate the functional effects of nm23 expression, we have transfected a constitutive murine nm23-1 expression construct into highly metastatic K-1735 TK murine melanoma cells. TK clones expressing the exogenous nm23-1 construct exhibited a reduced incidence of primary tumor formation, significant reductions in tumor metastatic potential independent of tumor cell growth, and altered responses to the cytokine transforming growth factor beta 1 in soft agar colonization assays, compared with control-transfected TK clones. In contrast, nm23-1-transfected TK clones exhibited no significant differences in intrinsic tumor cell growth, i.e., primary tumor size in vivo, anchorage-dependent growth rate in vitro, and anchorage-independent colony formation in soft agar in vitro. The data demonstrate a suppressive effect of nm23 on several aspects of the cancer process, including tumor metastasis.