Tumor cell arrest and tumor migration are two of the critical steps in the metastatic cascade. We hypothesized that these steps may be facilitated by the low density lipoprotein (LDL)-induced activation of microvessel endothelial cells (MVEC). The purpose of our study was to investigate the biological effects of an LDL-enriched milieu and the effects of the anticholesterol drug Lovastatin on metastatic behavior. The SW480 and SW620 are primary and metastatic human colonic adenocarcinoma cell lines derived from the same patient. We investigated the effect of LDL on adhesion and migration of the two tumor cell lines across human brain, lung, liver and dermal endothelial monolayers. Adhesion and migration assays were done before and after pretreatment of the MVEC or tumor cells with LDL (100 microg/ml) for 24 h. Although metastatic SW620 cells were more adherent to MVEC compared with primary SW480 cells, LDL pretreatment of SW480 and SW620 cells did not affect tumor cell adhesion to MVEC. In contrast, tumor cell migration was significantly increased across endothelial monolayers when MVEC were pretreated with LDL. Transendothelial cell migration was not significantly affected by pretreatment of the tumor cells with LDL. Lovastatin is an inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis. It has been shown to have anti-tumor activity in vitro. We investigated the effect of Lovastatin on tumor cell kinetics and tumor cell migration across MVEC. Growth curves and migration assays were done before and after pretreatment of the tumor cells with Lovastatin (30 microg/ml). Migration assays were also done after treatment of unstimulated or LDL-stimulated MVEC (100 microg/ml) for 24 h with Lovastatin. Lovastatin inhibited the in vitro growth of the metastatic SW620 cell line to a greater extent than the invasive SW480E cell line. On the other hand, pretreatment of tumor cells with Lovastatin (30 microg/ml) did not suppress transendothelial tumor cell migration of tumor cells. Finally, Lovastatin given to mice effectively suppressed the number of MCA-26 tumor colonies in the liver of Balb/c mice compared with untreated mice.