Previous studies have shown that high levels of MMP-9 can be detected in the serum of patients with various lymphoid malignancies and in leukemia/lymphoma culture supernatants. Indeed, aggressive forms of lymphoma constitutively produce MMP-9 and its elevated levels in the serum or in tissues correlate with advanced stage and poor patient survival. In vitro, MMP-9, which is also produced by the host peritumoral cells in response to the presence of tumors, plays an important role in migration of tumor cells through artificial basement membranes or endothelial cells. In this study, using MMP-9-deficient mice, we show that absence of MMP-9 does not prevent the development of primary T-cell leukemia. Furthermore, MMP-9-deficient cell lines retained their tumorigenic potential, as shown by their ability to induce thymic lymphoma in young syngeneic wild-type animals. In addition, these MMP-9-deficient tumor cells disseminate in normal mice, or mice that are deficient for MMP-9, indicating that tumor growth and dissemination can occur in total absence of MMP-9. These results show for the first time than lymphoma growth can occur in total absence of MMP-9 and have consequences for therapy of invasive cancers with inhibitors of MMPs.