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Recent studies reveal that chemotherapy can enhance metastasis due to host responses, such as augmented expression of adhesion molecules in endothelial cells and increased populations of myeloid cells. However, it is still unclear how tumour cells contribute to this process. Here, we observed that paclitaxel and carboplatin accelerated lung metastasis in tumour-bearing mice, while doxorubicin and fluorouracil did not. Mechanistically, paclitaxel and carboplatin induced similar changes in cytokine and angiogenic factors. Increased levels of CXCR2, CXCR4, S1P/S1PR1, PlGF and PDGF-BB were identified in the serum or primary tumour tissues of tumour-bearing mice treated by paclitaxel. The serum levels of CXCL1 and PDGF-BB and the tissue level of CXCR4 were also elevated by carboplatin. On the other hand, doxorubicin and fluorouracil did not induce such changes. The chemotherapy-induced cytokine and angiogenic factor changes were also confirmed in gene expression datasets from human patients following chemotherapy treatment. These chemotherapy-enhanced cytokines and angiogenic factors further induced angiogenesis, destabilized vascular integrity, recruited BMDCs to metastatic organs and mediated the proliferation, migration and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of tumour cells. Interestingly, inhibitors of these factors counteracted chemotherapy-enhanced metastasis in both tumour-bearing mice and normal mice injected intravenously with B16F10–GFP cells. In particular, blockade of the SDF-1α–CXCR4 or S1P–S1PR1 axes not only compromised chemotherapy-induced metastasis but also prolonged the median survival time by 33.9% and 40.3%, respectively. The current study delineates the mechanism of chemotherapy-induced metastasis and provides novel therapeutic strategies to counterbalance pro-metastatic effects of chemo-drugs via combination treatment with anti-cytokine/anti-angiogenic therapy. Copyright © 2015 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.