Hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) stimulates numerous cellular activities capable of contributing to the metastatic phenotype, including growth, motility, invasiveness, and morphogenetic transformation. When inappropriately expressed in vivo, an HGF/SF transgene induces numerous hyperplastic and neoplastic lesions. NK1 and NK2 are natural splice variants of HGF/SF; all interact with a common receptor, Met. Although both agonistic and antagonistic properties have been ascribed to each isoform in vitro, NK1 retains the full spectrum of HGF/SF-like activities when expressed as a transgene in vivo. Here we report that transgenic mice broadly expressing NK2 exhibit none of the phenotypes characteristic of HGF/SF or NK1 transgenic mice. Instead, when coexpressed in NK2-HGF/SF bitransgenic mice, NK2 antagonizes the pathological consequences of HGF/SF and discourages the subcutaneous growth of transplanted Met-containing melanoma cells. Remarkably, the metastatic efficiency of these same melanoma cells is dramatically enhanced in NK2 transgenic host mice relative to wild-type recipients, rivaling levels achieved in HGF/SF and NK1 transgenic hosts. Considered in conjunction with reports that in vitro NK2 induces scatter, but not other activities, these data strongly suggest that cellular motility is a critical determinant of metastasis. Moreover, our results demonstrate how alternatively structured ligands can be exploited in vivo to functionally dissociate Met-mediated activities and their downstream pathways.