Activation of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) plays an important pathogenic role in the development of atherosclerosis. Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) is a potent chemoattractant of monocytes. Besides induction of monocyte recruitment, it has been suggested that MCP-1 can also affect the cellular responses of ECs. We investigated whether MCP-1 activated the three major mitogen activated protein (MAP)-kinases extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun amino terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 MAPK. Stimulation of ECs with MCP-1 induced a time- and concentration-dependent activation of all three MAP-kinases, concentrations as low as 0.1 ng/ml were sufficient for this mechanism. MCP-1 also induced secretion of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 which along with ERK activation was inhibited by PD098059. The results demonstrate that MCP-1 can lead to direct activation of MAP kinases together with induction of MMP2 in ECs. Our data thus propose a new mechanism for the proatherogenic effect of MCP-1.