In diseases such as cancer, cells need to degrade the extracellular matrix (ECM) and therefore require high protease levels. Thus, aberrant tissue degradation is associated to matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) overexpression resulting from different mechanisms including epigenetic events. One of the most characterized epigenetic mechanisms is DNA methylation causing changes in chromatin conformation, thereby decreasing the accessibility to the transcriptional machinery and resulting in a robust gene silencing. Modulation of DNA methylation by DNA hypomethylating agents such as 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-azadC) is widely used in epigenetic anticancer treatments. Here, we focus on the effects of this drug on the expression level of MMP-1, -2, and -9 in human HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells. We demonstrate that 5-azadC increases MMP expression at both mRNA and protein levels, and promotes invasion potential of HT1080 cells. Using broad-spectrum and specific MMP inhibitors, we establish that MMP-1, but not MMP-2 and -9, plays a key role in 5-azadC-enhanced cell invasion. We show that 5-azadC induces MMP-1 expression through a transcriptional mechanism without affecting MMP-1 promoter methylation status. Finally, we demonstrate that 5-azadC treatment increases the nuclear levels of Sp1 and Sp3 transcription factors, and modulates their recruitment to the MMP-1 promoter, resulting in chromatin remodeling associated to 5-azadC-induced MMP-1 expression. All together, our data indicate that the hypomethylating agent 5-azadC modulates, mainly via Sp1 recruitment, MMP-1 expression resulting in an increased invasive potential of HT1080 cells. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.