To study the role of TNF-α in tongue cancer metastasis, we made highly metastatic cells from a human oral squamous cell carcinoma cell line (SAS) by repeating the passage in which the cells were injected into a nude mouse tongue and harvested from metastasized cervical lymph nodes. Cancer cells after 5 passages (GSAS/N5) increased invasive activity 7-fold in a TNF-α receptor 1 (TNFR1)-dependent manner and enhanced mRNA expression of TNF-α and TNFR1. In the highly metastatic cells, NF-κB activation was upregulated via elevated phosphorylation of Akt and Ikkα/β in the signaling pathway and secretion of TNF-α, active MMP-2 and MMP-9 increased. Suppression of increase of TNF-α mRNA expression and MMP secretion by NF-κB inhibitor NBD peptide suggested a positive feedback loop in GSAS/N5 cells; TNF-α activates NF-κB and activated NF-κB induces further TNF-α secretion, leading to increase of active MMP release and promotion of invasion and metastasis of the cells. GSAS/N5 cells that had been injected into the nude mouse tongue and harvested from metastasized lungs multiplied angiopoietin-like 4 (angptl4) expression with enhanced migration activity, which indicated a possible involvement of angptl4 in lung metastasis of the cells. These results suggest that TNF-α and angptl4 promote metastasis of the oral cancer cells, thus, these molecules may be therapeutic targets for patients with tongue cancer.