Several cinnamoyl compounds have been shown to have antitumor activities, but not specifically anti-invasive or antimetastatic effects. U-77,863 (o-methyl cinnanamide) was originally isolated from a fermentation beer of Streptomyces griseoluteus and recently synthesized (Harper, DE and Welch DR. Journal of Antibiotics, in press). Based upon some differential activities of cinnanamides, in general, and U-77,863, specifically, we tested the hypothesis that U-77,863 could inhibit invasion and metastasis of human malignant melanoma cell lines C8161 and A375M. Pretreatment of melanoma cells in vitro with nontoxic doses of U-77,863 caused a dose-, and time-dependent, reversible reduction (IC50 = 12.5 μg/ml) of invasion through Matrigel-coated polycarbonate filters in the Membrane Invasion Culture System (MICS). Likewise, lung colonization was significantly (P < 0.05) inhibited when tumor cells were pretreated in vitro with U-77,863 prior to intravenous injection. Structure-activity analysis revealed that the acrylamide side-chain alone and cinnanamide were only slightly less potent than U-77,863, whereas cinnamic acid analogs did not inhibit tumor cell invasion at doses ≤100μg/ml. U-77,863 inhibits invasion and metastasis without decreasing growth rates or clonogenic potential. Adhesion to endothelial monolayers or extracellular matrices (Matrigel) is not affected by exposure to U-77,863. U-77,863 presumably inhibits metastasis by inhibiting tumor cell extravasation (invasion). U-77,863 is a lead compound for developing a novel class of anti-invasive/anti-metastatic drugs. © 1993 Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd.