The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), previously known as matrixins, are classically known to be involved in the turnover of extracellular matrix (ECM) components. However, recent high throughput proteomics analyses have revealed that ~80% of MMP substrates are non-ECM proteins including cytokines, growth factor binding protiens, and receptors. It is now clear that MMPs regulate ECM turnover not only by cleaving ECM components, but also by the regulation of cell signalling, and that some MMPs are beneficial and may be drug anti-targets. Thus, MMPs have important roles in many processes including embryo development, morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis and remodeling. They are implicated in several diseases such as arthritis, periodontitis, glomerulonephritis, atherosclerosis, tissue ulceration, and cancer cell invasion and metastasis. All MMPs are synthesized as preproenzymes. Alternate splice forms are known, leading to nuclear localization of select MMPs. Most are secreted from the cell, or in the case of membrane type (MT) MMPs become plasma membrane associated, as inactive proenzymes. Their subsequent activation is a key regulatory step, with requirements specific to MMP subtype.