Although the involvement of soluble and matrix-immobilized proteases in tumor cell invasion and metastasis is well recognized, the role of proteolytically activated cell surface receptors has not been elucidated. We report here that thrombin receptor, a member of the protease-activated receptor family, is preferentially expressed in highly metastatic human breast carcinoma cell lines and breast carcinoma biopsy specimens. Introduction of thrombin receptor antisense cDNA considerably inhibited the invasion of metastatic breast carcinoma cells in culture through a reconstituted basement membrane. During placental implantation of the human embryo, thrombin receptor is transiently expressed in the invading cytotrophoblasts. These results emphasize the involvement of thrombin receptor in cell invasion associated with tumor progression and normal embryonic development.