Osteopontin (OPN) is a matricellular protein that is produced by multiple tissues in our body and is most abundant in bone. It is also produced by cancer cells and plays a determinative role in the growth, progression and metastasis of cancer. Clinically, OPN has been reported to be upregulated in tumor cells per se; this is also reflected by increased levels of OPN in the circulation. Thus, increased OPN levels in the plasma are an effect of tumor growth and progression. Functionally, high OPN levels are determinative of higher incidence of bone metastases in mouse models and are clinically correlated with metastatic bone disease and bone resorption in advanced breast cancer patients. Several research efforts have been made to therapeutically target and inhibit the activities of OPN. In this article we have reviewed OPN in its role as an effector of critical steps in tumor progression and metastasis, with a particular emphasis on its role in facilitating bone metastasis of breast cancer. We have also addressed the role of the host-derived OPN in influencing the malignant behavior of the tumor cells. © 2010 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.