A greater understanding of the processes of tumor invasion and metastasis, the principal cause of death in cancer patients, is essential to determine newer therapeutic targets. Metastasis suppressor genes, by definition, suppress metastasis without affecting tumorigenicity and, hence, present attractive targets as prognostic or therapeutic markers. This short review focuses on those twelve metastasis suppressor genes for which functional data exist. We also outline newly identified genes that bear promising traits of having metastasis suppressor activity, but for which functional data have not been completed. We also summarize the biochemical mechanism(s) of action (where known), and present a working model assembling potential metastasis suppression pathways. © 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.