Mucinous colorectal cancer often presents at an advanced stage. We have previously observed that mucin production by human colon‐cancer cells correlates with their ability to colonize the liver in experimental animal models. The present study was undeitaken in order to further elucidate the mechanisms by which production of mucin by colon‐cancer cells affects metastasis. Cell lines showing high mucin production (HMP) (HM 7, HM 3 and LS LiM 6) demonstrated increased adherence to basement membrane proteins and invaded a reconstituted basement membrane to a greater extent than their counterpart cell lines showing low mucin production (LMP) (LS174T and LM 12). Adherence of the LMP parental cell line LS 174T to various matrix proteins was potentiated by the addition of purified human colon‐cancer mucin in a dose‐dependent fashion. HMP cell lines secreted more proteolytically active type‐IV collagenase than LMP lines, and collagenase activity was further stimulated by purified mucin in a dose‐dependent manner. Specific inhibition of mucin O‐glycosylation by benzyl‐α‐N‐ acetylgalactosamine significantly affected each of the metastasis‐ related events, with the greatest effect on the HMP cell lines. The present data further indicate that cumin may play an important role in the metastutic process. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.