BACKGROUND: Statins inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, and are used successfully in the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia. Statins are contraindicated during pregnancy. Lately, we have shown that simvastatin has adverse affects on human first trimester placental explants' proliferation and migration. The objective of the present study was to investigate the molecules involved in mediating simvastatin's effect on trophoblast cell migration. We hypothesized that simvastatin attenuates insuline-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) receptor expression (involved in trophoblast motility), matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activities, and heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) levels (whose mRNA is actively transcribed during trophoblast differentiation) in trophoblast cells thus consequently effecting their migration. METHODS: Human placental explants were cultured above a matrigel with/without simvastatin (10 μM) for 5 days. In this model, trophoblast migrates from the villi into the matrigel. Western-blot and immunohistochemistry served for analysing HSP27 expression. Immunohistochemistry was used for assessing IGF-I receptor localization. MMPs activity was assayed by gel zymography. RESULTS: Simvastatin reduced IGF-I receptor membranal expression, MMP2 activity and HSP27 expression in trophoblast cells (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The inhibitory effect of simvastatin on trophoblast cell migration is associated with a significant decrease in the tested molecules, which probably contributes to the impaired migration.