Human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMECs) play an essential role as structural and functional components of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). While disruption of the BBB by the brain tumor-secreted matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) favors tumor invasion, the role and regulation of MMP-9 secretion by HBMEC themselves in response to carcinogens or brain tumor-derived growth factors has received little attention. Our study delineates a unique brain endothelial phenotype in that MMP-9 secretion is increased upon phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) treatment of HBMEC. Sulforaphane (SFN), an isothiocyanate present in broccoli which exhibits chemopreventive properties, selectively inhibited the secretion of MMP-9 but not that of MMP-2. The decrease in MMP-9 gene expression correlated with a decrease in the expression of the mRNA stabilizing factor HuR protein triggered by SFN. PMA-induced HBMEC migration was also antagonized by SFN. Silencing of the MMP-9 gene inhibited PMA-induced MMP-9 secretion, cell migration, and in vitro tubulogenesis on Matrigel. While SFN inhibited the chemoattractive abilities of brain tumor-derived growth factors, it failed to inhibit PMA-induced tubulogenesis. Our data are indicative of a selective role for SFN to inhibit MMP-9-activated, but not basal, HBMEC migration, and tubulogenesis whose actions could add to SFN's antitumor properties.