Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is a multifunctional secreted glycoprotein that displays broad anti-tumor activity based on dual targeting of the tumor microenvironment (anti-angiogenic action) and the tumor cells (direct anti-tumor action). Here, we show that PEDF expression is high in melanocytes, but it is lost during malignant progression of human melanoma. Using a high-throughput analysis of the data from microarray studies of molecular profiling of human melanoma, we found that PEDF expression is lost in highly invasive melanomas. In paired cell lines established from the same lesion but representing the high and low extremes of malignant potential, abundant PEDF expression was restricted to the poorly aggressive counterparts. We used RNA interference to directly address the functional consequences of PEDF silencing. PEDF knockdown in poorly aggressive melanoma cell lines augmented migration, invasion and vasculogenic mimicry, which translated into an increased in vivo metastatic potential. PEDF interference also significantly enhanced the migratory and invasive capability of normal melanocytes and moderately increased their proliferative potential. Our results show that loss of PEDF enables melanoma cells to acquire an invasive phenotype and, therefore, modulation of this multifunctional factor could be critical for the malignant progression of human melanoma.