Trophoblast cells express urokinase-type plasminogen activator (PLAU) and may depend on its activity for endometrial invasion and tissue remodeling during peri-implantation development. However, the developmental regulation, tissue distribution, and function of PLAU are not completely understood. In this study, the expression of PLAU and its regulation by extracellular matrix proteins was examined by RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, and plasminogen–casein zymography in cultured mouse embryos. There was a progressive increase in Plau mRNA expression in blastocysts cultured on gestation days 4–8. Tissue-type plasminogen activator (55 kDa) and PLAU (a triplet of 40, 37, and 31 kDa) were present in conditioned medium and embryo lysates, and were adsorbed to the culture plate surface. The temporal expression pattern of PLAU, according to semi-quantitative gel zymography, was similar in non-adhering embryos and embryos cultured on fibronectin, laminin, or type IV collagen, although type IV collagen and laminin upregulated Plau mRNA expression. Immunofluorescence revealed PLAU on the surface of the mural trophectoderm and in non-spreading giant trophoblast cells. Exogenous human plasminogen was transformed to plasmin by cultured embryos and activated endogenous matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9). Indeed, the developmental expression profile of MMP9 was similar to that of PLAU. Our data suggest that the intrinsic developmental program predominantly regulates PLAU expression during implantation, and that PLAU could be responsible for activation of MMP9, leading to localized matrix proteolysis as trophoblast invasion commences.