Paired box 6 (PAX6), a highly conserved transcription factor, is important in glioma. However, the molecular mechanisms involved remain unclear. The present study demonstrated that the expression of PAX6 was significantly reduced with the malignancy of glioma and also identified PAX6 as a novel target of microRNA (miR)‑335, which was significantly upregulated in glioma. The inhibition of miR‑335 increased the protein expression of PAX6, whereas the upregulation of miR‑335 suppressed its expression in human glioma U251 and U87 cells. Furthermore, upregulation of miR-335 promoted U251 cell proliferation, colony formation and invasion, which was reversed by the overexpression of PAX6. Furthermore, the present study demonstrated that the effect of miR‑335 on U251 cell invasion was via the modulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‑2 and MMP‑9 expression by targeting PAX6. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that PAX6, as a novel target of miR‑335, has an anti‑oncogenic function in glioma, and thus PAX6 may serve as a therapeutic target for glioma.