There are currently 25 known vertebrate matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and 4 tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). This article reviews these proteases from an historical perspective in terms of who discovered each protein, when the sequence was established, when action on protein substrates was demonstrated, and what names have been used. A similar approach is taken for the TIMPS, and their multiple functions in addition to protease inhibition are emphasized. MMPs from invertebrates, plants, and bacteria are also discussed. This review is an outgrowth and update of a chapter by the same name originally published in Matrix Metalloproteinase Protocols, pp. 1-23, edited by I. M. Clark and published by Humana Press in 2001.