The metastasis suppressor, N-myc downstream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1), is negatively correlated with tumor progression in multiple neoplasms, being a promising new target for cancer treatment. However, the precise molecular effects of NDRG1 remain unclear. Herein, we summarize recent advances in understanding the impact of NDRG1 on cancer metastasis with emphasis on its interactions with the key oncogenic nuclear factor-kappaB, phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/phosphorylated AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin and Ras/Raf/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling pathways. Recent studies demonstrating the inhibitory effects of NDRG1 on the epithelial–mesenchymal transition, a key initial step in metastasis, TGF-β pathway and the Wnt/β-catenin pathway are also described. Furthermore, NDRG1 was also demonstrated to regulate molecular motors in cancer cells, leading to inhibition of F-actin polymerization, stress fiber formation and subsequent reduction of cancer cell migration. Collectively, this review summarizes the underlying molecular mechanisms of the antimetastatic effects of NDRG1 in cancer cells.