Invasive tumor dissemination in vitro and in vivo involves the proteolytic degradation of ECM barriers. This process, however, is only incompletely attenuated by protease inhibitor-based treatment, suggesting the existence of migratory compensation strategies. In three-dimensional collagen matrices, spindle-shaped proteolytically potent HT-1080 fibrosarcoma and MDA-MB-231 carcinoma cells exhibited a constitutive mesenchymal-type movement including the coclustering of beta 1 integrins and MT1-matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) at fiber bindings sites and the generation of tube-like proteolytic degradation tracks. Near-total inhibition of MMPs, serine proteases, cathepsins, and other proteases, however, induced a conversion toward spherical morphology at near undiminished migration rates. Sustained protease-independent migration resulted from a flexible amoeba-like shape change, i.e., propulsive squeezing through preexisting matrix gaps and formation of constriction rings in the absence of matrix degradation, concomitant loss of clustered beta 1 integrins and MT1-MMP from fiber binding sites, and a diffuse cortical distribution of the actin cytoskeleton. Acquisition of protease-independent amoeboid dissemination was confirmed for HT-1080 cells injected into the mouse dermis monitored by intravital multiphoton microscopy. In conclusion, the transition from proteolytic mesenchymal toward nonproteolytic amoeboid movement highlights a supramolecular plasticity mechanism in cell migration and further represents a putative escape mechanism in tumor cell dissemination after abrogation of pericellular proteolysis.