Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is characterized by desmoplasia, local invasion, and metastasis. These features are regulated in part by MMP9 and SPARC. To explore the interaction of SPARC and MMP9 in cancer, we first established orthotopic pancreatic tumors in SPARC-null and wild-type mice with the murine pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line, PAN02. MMP9 expression was higher in tumors from wild-type compared to SPARC-null mice. Coincident with lower MMP9 expression, tumors grown in SPARC-null mice were significantly larger, had decreased ECM deposition and reduced microvessel density compared to wild-type controls. In addition, metastasis was enhanced in the absence of host SPARC. Therefore, we next analyzed the orthotopic tumor growth of PAN02 cells transduced with MMP9 or a control empty vector. Forced expression of MMP9 by the PAN02 cells resulted in larger tumors in both wild-type and SPARC-null animals compared to empty vector controls and further diminished ECM deposition. Importantly, forced expression of MMP9 within the tumor reversed the decrease in angiogenesis and abrogated the metastatic potential displayed by control tumors grown in SPARC-null mice. Finally, contrary to the in vivo results, MMP9 increased cell migration in vitro, which was blocked by the addition of SPARC. These results suggest that SPARC and MMP9 interact to regulate many stages of tumor progression including ECM deposition, angiogenesis and metastasis. Copyright © 2008 by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.