Invasion of various carcinoma cells follows their interaction with stromal cells. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), four-kringle-containing growth factor, is a mesenchymal or stromal-derived mediator which affects the growth and the invasiveness of carcinoma cells. We now have evidence that a four-kringle-containing antagonist for HGF, HGF/NK4 inhibits invasion of tumors in vivo, as well as in vitro. HGF/NK4 competitively inhibited the binding of HGF to Met/ HGF receptors on GB-d1 human gallbladder carcinoma cells. HGF induced invasion of the cells through Matrigel basement membrane components and into collagen gels, but HGF-induced invasion was inhibited by HGF/NK4. Invasion of GB-d1 cells was induced by co-cultivation with stromal fibroblasts, which mimics tumor-stromal interaction, but it was almost completely suppressed by HGF/NK4. Likewise, invasive growth induced by HGF in collagen gels in GB-dl cells, HuCC-T1 human cholangiocarcinoma cells, and ME-180 human uterus cervical carcinoma cells was also strongly inhibited by HGF/NK4. When GB-d1 cells were implanted subcutaneously into nude mouse, tumor cells invaded muscular tissue, but the infusion of HGF/NK4 inhibited this invasion. Furthermore, HGF/NK4 increased apoptotic cell death of GB-d1 cells and inhibited tumor growth in vivo. These results indicate that HGF/ NK4 may inhibit growth and invasion of carcinoma cells, as mediated by HGF during tumor-stromal interactions. We propose that there is a unique therapeutic potential for HGF/NK4 to prevent tumor invasion and perhaps even metastasis.