Initial stages of tumor cell metastasis involve an epithelial-mesenchyme transition that involves activation of amoeboid migration and loss of cell-cell adhesion. The actomyosin cytoskeleton has fundamental but poorly understood roles in these events. Myosin II, an abundant force-producing protein, has roles in cell body translocation and retraction of the posterior of the cell during migration. Recent studies have suggested that this protein may also have roles in leading edge protrusive events. The metastasis-promoting protein metastasin-1, a regulator of myosin II assembly, colocalizes with myosin IIA at the leading edge of cancer cells, suggesting direct roles for myosin II in metastatic behavior. We have assessed the roles of specific myosin II isoforms during lamellar spreading of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells on extracellular matrix. We find that the two major myosin II isoforms IIA and IIB are both expressed in these cells, and both are recruited dramatically to the lamellar margin during active spreading on fibronectin. There is also a transient increase in regulatory light chain phosphorylation that correlates the recruitment of myosin IIA and myosin IIB into this spreading margin. Pharmacologic inhibition of myosin II or myosin light chain kinase dramatically reduced spreading. Depletion of myosin IIA via small interfering RNA impaired migration but enhanced lamellar spreading, whereas depletion of myosin IIB impaired not only migration but also impaired initial rates of lamellar spreading. These results indicate that both isoforms are critical for the mechanics of cell migration, with myosin IIB seeming to have a preferential role in the mechanics of lamellar protrusion.