Carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) is a hypoxia and HIF-1–inducible protein that regulates intra- and extracellular pH under hypoxic conditions and promotes tumor cell survival and invasion in hypoxic microenvironments. Interrogation of 3,630 human breast cancers provided definitive evidence of CAIX as an independent poor prognostic biomarker for distant metastases and survival. shRNA-mediated depletion of CAIX expression in 4T1 mouse metastatic breast cancer cells capable of inducing CAIX in hypoxia resulted in regression of orthotopic mammary tumors and inhibition of spontaneous lung metastasis formation. Stable depletion of CAIX in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer xenografts also resulted in attenuation of primary tumor growth. CAIX depletion in the 4T1 cells led to caspase-independent cell death and reversal of extracellular acidosis under hypoxic conditions in vitro. Treatment of mice harboring CAIX-positive 4T1 mammary tumors with novel CAIX-specific small molecule inhibitors that mimicked the effects of CAIX depletion in vitro resulted in significant inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis formation in both spontaneous and experimental models of metastasis, without inhibitory effects on CAIX-negative tumors. Similar inhibitory effects on primary tumor growth were observed in mice harboring orthotopic tumors comprised of lung metatstatic MDA-MB-231 LM2-4Luc+ cells. Our findings show that CAIX is vital for growth and metastasis of hypoxic breast tumors and is a specific, targetable biomarker for breast cancer metastasis. Cancer Res; 71(9); 3364–76. ©2011 AACR.