Carcinomas of the prostate and other lineages often present an autocrine stimulatory loop acting via the EGF receptor (EGFR). We have recently shown that EGFR-mediated signals enhance DU-145 prostate carcinoma cell transmigration of an extracellular matrix in vitro, and that this increased invasiveness was independent of proteolytic degradation of the matrix (Xie et al., 1995, Clin Exp Metastasis, 13, 407). To determine whether up-regulated EGFR signaling promotes tumor progression in vivo and to define the EGFR-induced cell property responsible, we inoculated athymic mice with genetically-engineered DU-145 cells. Parental DU-145 cells and those transduced to overexpress a full-length wild type (WT) EGFR formed tumors and metastasized to the lung when inoculated in the prostate and peritoneal cavity. The WT DU-145 tumors were more invasive. DU-145 cells expressing a mitogenically-active, but motility-deficient (c'973) EGFR formed small, non-invasive tumors without evidence of metastasis. All three sublines demonstrated identical, EGFR-dependent rates of cell growth in vitro, suggesting that the differential invasiveness was not due to altered growth rates. To determine whether cell motility may be, in part, responsible for tumor invasiveness, we treated WT DU-145 intraperitoneal tumors with a pharmacologic agent (U73122) which blocks EGFR-mediated cell motility but not mitogenesis. Under this treatment regimen, the WT DU-145 cells formed tumors of similar numbers and size to those formed without treatment; however, these tumors were much less invasive. These data suggest that EGFR-mediated cell motility is an important mechanism involved in tumor progression, and that this cell property may represent a novel target to limit the spread of tumors.