Diabetes is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Hyperglycemia is an underlying contributing factor; however, the mechanisms that mediate the vascular complications are not yet fully understood. In the present study, we provide evidence that elevated glucose induces discordant matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression from two key vascular cells, endothelial cells and macrophages. Our results clearly indicate that high glucose (25 mM) induced endothelial cell expression and activity of the collagenase, MMP-1 and the gelatinase, MMP-2, whilst reducing expression of the stromelysin, MMP-3 (P<0.05). Similarly, our results show that high glucose (25 mM) induces expression and activity of MMP-9 from monocyte-derived macrophages (P<0.05). High glucose culture did not affect metalloproteinase inhibitor (TIMP-1) expression. Our results suggest for the first time that high glucose exposure induced discordant regulation of the MMP/TIMP system in vascular cells. The increased MMP-1, MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities induced by high glucose exposure could promote matrix degradation thereby accelerating atherogenesis and potentially reducing plaque stability in diabetes.