Three human malignant melanoma cell strains (C8146A, C8146C, and C83-2CY), three established human melanoma cell lines (A375P, A375M, and C8161), and one selected human melanoma subline (A375P-5) were studied to determine if invasion through a reconstituted basement membrane-coated filter (RBMF), which selects the most aggressively invasive cells, would also modulate the cloning efficiency of these cells in soft agar. With the use of the Membrane Invasion Culture System (MICS), all cell strains tested showed a significant increase in cloning efficiency (1.05-9.3-fold) following transit through the RBMF when compared to unmanipulated populations. The established cell lines (A375P, A375M, and C8161) and the A375P-5 subline showed either a decrease or unaltered status in cloning efficiency after invasion. However, all cells demonstrated a consistent decrease in clonogenicity following transit through an uncoated filter compared with RBMFs, thus suggesting the influence of the extracellular matrix on tumor cell clonogenic properties. In general, the established cell lines were more clonogenic before invasion of the RBMF compared with the cell strains, and no correlation was found between clonogenic potential and invasive or metastatic capability. These data may provide important insight into the underlying mechanisms of tumor cell invasion and the subsequent formation and dissemination of metastases in vivo.