The migration of B16LuF1 cells, B16-melanoma cells of lower metastatic potential to lung was enhanced through artificial basement membrane in presence of gangliosides of B16LuF1 cells as well as gangliosides of B16-melanoma cells of higher metastatic potential to lung, namely, B16LuF5 and B16LuF10 cells. The same concentration (50 microM) of gangliosides of B16LuF1, B16LuF5 and B16LuF10 cells gradually increased the migration of B16LuF1 cells through basement membrane. Moreover, B16LuF10 cell gangliosides modified the migratory effect of laminin and fibronectin on B16LuF1 cells. Laminin alone increased migration of B16LuF1 cells whereas fibronectin alone decreased migration of the same cells. When B16LuF10 cell gangliosides were used in combination with fibronectin, gangliosides removed the migration inhibitory effect of fibronectin resulting in net enhancing effect. Gangliosides in association with laminin also increased the enhancing effect of laminin on migration of B16LuF1 cells. Thus, gangliosides showed additive enhancing effect when used in combination with laminin. However, effect of individual gangliosides were different. Out of six gangliosides isolated from B16LuF10 cells only two gangliosides corresponding to standard gangliosides GM2 and GM3 enhanced migration of B16LuF1 cells. The migration of B16LuF1 cells in presence of each of the remaining four gangliosides corresponding to GT1b, GD1b, GD1a and GM1 was not altered and was comparable to that of untreated control. Thus, gangliosides of B16 melanoma cells alone or in combination with laminin or fibronectin enhanced migration of B16 melanoma cells through artificial basement membrane, suggesting possible role of tumor gangliosides during invasion of metastatic tumor cells through basement membrane of the surrounding tissues in vivo.