Evidence presented in the accompanying article (Gibbs, D. F., T. P. Shanley, R. L. Warner, H. S. Murphy, J. Varani, and K. J. Johnson. 1999. Role of matrix metalloproteinases in models of macrophage-dependent acute lung injury: evidence for alveolar macrophage as source of proteinases. Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 20:1145-1154) implicates alveolar macrophage matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in two models of acute lung inflammation in the rat. As a prerequisite to understanding which specific MMPs might be involved in the injury and how they might function, it was necessary to know the spectrum of enzymes present. To this end, alveolar macrophages were obtained from normal rat lungs by bronchoalveolar lavage, placed in culture with and without various agonists, and assessed by a variety of techniques for MMPs. The identification process involved characterization by gelatin, beta-casein, and kappa-elastin zymography, with confirmation of identity by Western blot/immunoprecipitation. Message levels of detected MMPs were assessed by Northern blot. Rat alveolar macrophages were found to produce a low constitutive level of MMP-2 (72-kD gelatinase A) that was only modestly upregulated following stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate, bacterial lipopolysaccharide, or immunoglobulin A-containing immune complexes. Although control cells were found to produce little or no MMP-9 (92-kD gelatinase B) or MMP-12 (metalloelastase), both enzymes were markedly upregulated upon stimulation. In the same stimulated macrophages there was little activity against type I collagen (associated with MMP-13 [collagenase-3] on the basis of Western blotting), no activity suggestive of stromelysin or matrilysin, and no measurable secretion of the serine proteinases, elastase and cathepsin G. These data demonstrate the ability of rat alveolar macrophages to elaborate certain MMPs under proinflammatory conditions, consistent with their possible involvement in the progression of acute inflammation.