The integrins are a large family of heterodimeric cell adhesion receptors mediating cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesion. They seem to play a central role in cell migration and invasion and are therefore essential in processes such as healing of tissue injuries and the progression of human cancer. Integrins function in cell invasion by mediating cell movement on matrix molecules and also by regulating the expression of matrix-degrading enzymes, namely the matrix metalloproteinases. Here we review recent findings on the mechanisms by which integrins regulate matrix degradation. A novel, multistep model of integrin-guided collagen degradation is proposed.