A micro-RNA, miR-155, is overexpressed in many types of cancer cells, including breast cancer, and its role(s) in tumor metastasis has been studied on a very limited basis. Tumor metastasis is a multi-step process with the last step in the process being formation of macroscopic tumor in organs distant from the primary tumor site. This step is the least studied. Here, we report that stable expression of miR-155 in 4T1 breast tumor cells reduces significantly the aggressiveness of tumor cell dissemination as a result of preventing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of tumor cells in vivo. Further, miR-155 directly suppresses the expression of the transcription factor TCF4, which is an important regulator of EMT. However, when tumor cells are injected directly into the bloodstream, miR-155 remarkably promotes macroscopic tumor formation in the lung. Analysis of gene expression profiling identified a group of genes that are associated with promoting macroscopic tumor formation in the lung. Importantly, most of these genes are overexpressed in epithelial cells. Our findings provide new insight into how miR-155 modulates the development of tumor metastasis. This study suggests that the location of tumor cells overexpressing miR-155 is a critical factor: in mammary fat pads miR-155 prevents tumor dissemination; whereas in the lung miR-155 apparently maintains the epithelial phenotype of tumor cells that is critical for macroscopic tumor formation. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.