Acute lung injury is characterized by a severe disruption of alveolo-capillary structures and includes a variety of changes in lung cell populations. Evidence suggests the occurrence of rupture of the basement membranes and interstitial matrix remodeling during acute lung injury. The dynamic equilibrium of the extracellular matrix (ECM) under physiological conditions is a consequence of the balance between the regulation of synthesis and degradation of ECM components. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) represent a group of enzymes involved in the degradation of most of the components of the ECM and therefore participate in tissue remodeling associated with pathological situations such as acute lung injury. MMP activity is regulated by proteolytic activation of the latent secreted proenzyme and by interaction with specific tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases. This review details our knowledge of the involvement of MMPs, namely MMP-2 and MMP-9, in acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome.