Collagen type XI α1 (COL11A1), a minor fibrillar collagen, has been demonstrated to be involved in cell proliferation, migration and the tumorigenesis of many human malignancies. Previous studies have shown that COL11A1 may be a valuable diagnostic marker for non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). However, its biological function in NSCLC progression remains largely unclear. In the present study, we investigated the expression levels of COL11A1 in different human NSCLC samples, and found that COL11A1 was overexpressed in NSCLC with lymph node metastasis and in recurrent NSCLC tissues. We also revealed that COL11A1 promoted the cell proliferation, migration and invasion of NSCLC cell lines in vitro. Furthermore, our results highlighted the importance of COL11A1 in chemoresistance to cisplatin. Mechanistically, we found that the effects of the overexpression of COL11A1 in NSCLC cells were mediated by Smad signaling. Collectively, our findings suggest that COL11A1 may sever as a biomarker for metastatic NSCLC, and can be used to predict recurrence after surgical resection. Therapeutic approaches targeting COL11A1 may facilitate the optimization of cisplatin treatment of NSCLC by overcoming chemoresistance.