Proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is an important process during tumor invasion. Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1) is one of the proteases that degrade collagen type I, a major component of bone ECM. In the present study, the biological relevance of MMP-1 in osteosarcoma (OS) tumor growth and metastasis was investigated in vitro and in vivo. Human OS cells in primary culture expressed MMP-1 encoding mRNA at considerably higher levels than normal human bone cells. In addition, MMP-1 mRNA and protein expression in the highly metastatic human osteosarcoma 143-B cell line was remarkably higher than in the non-metastatic parental HOS cell line. Stable shRNA-mediated downregulation of MMP-1 in 143-B cells impaired adhesion to collagen I and anchorage-independent growth, reflected by a reduced ability to grow in soft agar. Upon intratibial injection into SCID mice, 143-B cells with shRNA-downregulated MMP-1 expression formed smaller primary tumors and significantly lower numbers of lung micro- and macrometastases than control cells. Conversely, HOS cells stably overexpressing MMP-1 showed an enhanced adhesion capability to collagen I and accelerated anchorage-independent growth compared to empty vector-transduced control cells. Furthermore, and most importantly, individual MMP-1 overexpression in HOS cells enabled the formation of osteolytic primary tumors and lung metastasis while the HOS control cells did not develop any tumors or metastases after intratibial injection. The findings of the present study reveal an important role of MMP-1 in OS primary tumor and metastasis formation to the lung, the major organ of OS metastasis.