Cortactin, a p80/85 protein first identified as a src kinase substrate, is thought to be involved in the signaling pathway of mitogenic receptors and adhesion molecules mediating cytoskeletal reorganization. The cortactin gene, EMS1, maps to chromosome 11q13, a region amplified in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) and breast cancer, which display lymph node metastasis and an unfavorable clinical outcome. To further address the role of cortactin in the malignant phenotype of cells, we stably overexpressed cortactin in NIH3T3 fibroblasts and evaluated the effects of elevated cortactin on cellular proliferation, motility and invasiveness. Cortactin overexpressing cells did not display any striking morphological changes, nor any significant differences in cell proliferation or saturation density as compared to control NIH3T3 cells. Furthermore, the cortactin overexpressing cells were anchorage dependent for growth. Interestingly, cortactin overexpressing cells were more motile and invasive in modified Boyden chamber assays. These results suggest that overexpression of cortactin may play a role in tumor progression by influencing tumor cell migration and invasion.