Fibroblast proliferation and extracellular matrix accumulation characterize idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We evaluated the presence of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, -2, -3, and -4; collagenase-1, -2, and -3; gelatinases A and B; and membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) in 12 IPF and 6 control lungs. TIMP-1 was found in interstitial macrophages and TIMP-2 in fibroblast foci. TIMP-3 revealed an intense staining mainly decorating the elastic lamina in vessels. TIMP-4 was expressed in IPF lungs by epithelial and plasma cells. TIMP-2 colocalized with Ki67 in fibroblasts, whereas TIMP-3 colocalized with p27 in inflammatory and epithelial cells. Collagenase-1 was localized in macrophages and alveolar epithelial cells, collagenase-2 was localized in a few neutrophils, and collagenase-3 was not detected. MMP-9 was found in neutrophils and subepithelial myofibroblasts. Myofibroblast expression of MMP-9 was corroborated in vitro by RT-PCR. MMP-2 was noticed in myofibroblasts, some of them close to areas of basement membrane disruption, and membrane type 1 MMP was noticed in interstitial macrophages. These findings suggest that in IPF there is higher expression of TIMPs compared with collagenases, supporting the hypothesis that a nondegrading fibrillar collagen microenvironment is prevailing.