Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 (Gelatinase B, 92-kD type IV collagenase, EC 220.127.116.11) is an MMP that is present in low quantities in the healthy adult lung, but much more abundant in several lung diseases, including asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Despite numerous reports of MMP-9 in these and other lung diseases, whether MMP-9 is causal in lung remodeling or part of the inflammatory and reparative response remains to be determined. Many intrinsic lung cells can be stimulated to produce MMP-9, but much of the information regarding MMP-9 in the lung deals with MMP-9 from inflammatory cells. The multiple locations and cell types producing MMP-9 are consistent with multiple functions in different microenvironments. In addition to digestion of structural proteins and antiproteases, MMP-9 can modify cellular function by regulation of cytokines and matrix-bound growth factors. Determining the role of MMP-9 in health and disease will be important, because broad spectrum and specific inhibitors will soon be available to enable conversion of the bench knowledge to bedside practice. This review addresses the current understanding of MMP-9 in human asthma, IPF, and COPD, and in animal models of these conditions.