The role of Hedgehog (Hh) signaling as a developmental pathway is well established. Several recent studies have implicated a role for this pathway in multiple cancers. In this study we report that expression of GLI1 and osteopontin (OPN) increase progressively with the progression of melanoma from primary cutaneous cancer to metastatic melanoma in clinically derived specimens. We have further determined that OPN is a direct transcriptional target of GLI1. We have observed that OPN expression is stimulated in the presence of Hh ligands and inhibited in the presence of the Smoothened (SMO) inhibitor, cyclopamine. Transcriptional silencing of GLI1 negatively impacts OPN expression and compromises the ability of cancer cells to proliferate, migrate, and invade in vitro and interferes with their ability to grow as xenografts and spontaneously metastasize in nude mice. These altered attributes could be rescued by re-expressing OPN in the GLI1-silenced cells, suggesting that OPN is a critical downstream effector of active GLI1 signaling. Our observations lead us to conclude that the GLI1-mediated upregulation of OPN promotes malignant behavior of cancer cells. © 2009 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.