Human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs), a source of cell therapy, have received a great deal of attention due to their homing or migrating ability in response to signals emanating from damaged sites. It has been found that IL- 1β possesses the ability to induce the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) in bone marrow MSCs. MMP-3 is involved in cell migration in various types of cells, including glioblastoma, vascular smooth muscle, and adult neural progenitor cells. In this study, we proposed that IL-1β influences hUCMSCs migration involving MMP-3. The expression level of MMP-3 in IL-1β-induced hUCMSCs was verified using cDNA microarray analysis, quantitative real-time PCR, ELISA and Western blot. Wound-healing and trans-well assay were used to investigate the cell migration and invasion ability of IL-1β-treated hUCMSCs. In addition, we pre-treated hUCMSCs with interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, MMP-3 inhibitors (ALX-260-165, UK 356618), or transfected with MMP-3 siRNA to confirm the role of MMP3 in IL-1β-induced cell migration. Our results showed that IL-1β induced MMP-3 expression is related to the migration of hUCMSCs. Moreover, extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) inhibitor U0126, p38 inhibitor SB205380, JNK inhibitor SP600125 and Akt inhibitor GSK 690693 decreased IL-1β-induced MMP-3 mRNA and protein expression. The migration and invasion ability analyses showed that these inhibitors attenuated the IL-1β-induced migration and invasion ability of hUCMSCs. In conclusion, we have found that IL-1β induces the expression of MMP-3 through ERK1/2, JNK, p38 MAPK and Akt signaling pathways to enhance the migration of hUCMSCs. These results provide further understanding of the mechanisms in IL-1β-induced hUCMSCs migration to injury sites.