Liver fibrosis is characterized by activation of hepatic stellate cells, which are then involved in synthesis of matrix proteins and in regulating matrix degradation. In the acute phases of liver injury and as liver fibrosis progresses, there is increased expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs). Among the changes described, striking features include increased expression of gelatinase A (MMP-2) and membrane type 1-MMP (MT(1)-MMP; MMP-14) as well as TIMP-1 and TIMP-2. These molecules and other family members are involved in regulating degradation of both normal and fibrotic liver matrix. This article outlines recent progress in this field and discusses the mechanisms by which MMPs and TIMPs may contribute to the progression and regression of liver fibrosis. Recently described properties of MMPs and TIMPs of relevance to the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis are outlined. The proposal that regression of liver fibrosis is mediated by decreased expression of TIMPs and involves degradation of fibrillar collagens by a combination of MT(1)-MMP and gelatinase A, in addition to interstitial collagenase, is explored.