SOX4 is highly expressed in gastric cancer (GC) and is associated with tumor grade, metastasis and prognosis, however the mechanism is not clear. We report herein that SOX4 was upregulated and overexpression of SOX4 was associated with increased expression of the markers of Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and stemness in clinic patient samples. In vitro, overexpression of SOX4 promoted the invasion as showed by Transwell assay and stemness of GC cells as assessed by sphere formation assay, which was suppressed by silencing SOX4 with shRNA. Further studies showed that SOX4 up-regulated the expression of EMT transcription factors Twist1, snail1 and zeb1 and stemness transcription factors SOX2 and OCT4, and promoted the nuclear translocation of β-catenin. Moreover, we revealed that TGF-β treatment significantly up-regulated the expression of SOX4 and silencing SOX4 reversed TGF-β induced invasion and sphere formation ability of GC cells. Finally, we showed that SOX4 promoted the lung metastasis and tumor formation ability of gastric cancer cells in nude mice. Our results suggest that SOX4 is a target TGF-β signaling and mediates TGF-β-induced EMT and stem cell characteristics of GC cells, revealing a novel role of TGF-β/SOX4 axis in the regulation of malignant behavior of GC.