Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is constitutively activated in the majority of lung cancer. This study aims at defining connections between STAT3 function and the malignant properties of nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cells. To address possible mechanisms by which STAT3 influences invasiveness, the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) was analyzed and correlated with the STAT3 activity status. Studies on both surgical biopsies and on lung cancer cell lines revealed a coincidence of STAT3 activation and strong expression of MMP-1. MMP-1 and tyrosine-phosphorylated activated STAT3 were found co-localized in cancer tissues, most pronounced in tumor fronts, and in particular in adenocarcinomas. STAT3 activity was constitutive, although to different degrees, in the lung cancer cell lines investigated. Three cell lines (BEN, KNS62, and A549) were identified in which STAT3 activitation was inducible by Interleukin-6 (IL-6). In A549 cells, STAT3 activity enhanced the level of MMP-1 mRNA and stimulated transcription from the MMP-1 promoter in IL-6stimulated A549 cells. STAT3 specificity of this effect was confirmed by STAT3 knockdown through RNA interference. Our results link aberrant activity of STAT3 in lung cancer cells to malignant tumor progression through up-regulation of expression of invasiveness-associated MMPs.