The MET oncogene encodes the receptor for HGF/Scatter Factor, known to control cell motility and invasion in epithelial cells. We report that the Met/HGF receptor, absent in differentiated adult skeletal muscles, is aberrantly expressed in clinical samples and in established cell lines of human rhadbomyosarcomas. In both the embryonal and alveolar histotypes the oncogene is overexpressed and, in some cases, amplified. The Met receptor is exposed at the cell surface and is functionally active in response to HGF/Scatter Factor. Accordingly, rhabdomyosarcoma cells exhibit an invasive phenotype in vitro in response to exogenous HGF/Scatter factor. As the factor is known to be produced by connective tissues, a paracrine stimulation of rhabdomyosarcoma invasiveness in vivo is hypothesized. Two alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas were found in co-express the ¿two-kringle' alternatively-spliced HGF/Scatter Factor variant, which has been previously shown to stimulate cell motility and matrix invasion in vitro. These cells displayed the invasive phenotype in the absence of exogenous HGF/Scatter Factor, suggesting an autocrine mechanism in vivo. These data indicate that aberrant expression of the MET proto-oncogene provides rhabdomyosarcoma cells with the same property as embryonal myoblasts to migrate into the surrounding connective tissues.