The pathology of chronic dermal ulcers is characterized by excessive proteolytic activity which degrades extracellular matrix (required for cell migration) and growth factors and their receptors. The overexpression of MMP-3 (stromelysin-1) and MMP-13 (collagenase-3) is associated with nonhealing wounds, whereas active MMPs-1, -2, -9, and -14 are required for normal wound healing to occur. We describe the synthesis and enzyme inhibition profile of (3R)-3-[([(1S)-2,2-dimethyl-1-(([(1S)-2-methoxy-1-phenylethyl]amino)carbonyl)propyl]amino)carbonyl]-6-(3-methyl-4-phenylphenyl)hexanoic acid (UK-370,106, 7), which is a potent inhibitor of MMP-3 (IC(50) = 23 nM) with >1200-fold weaker potency vs MMP-1, -2, -9, and -14. MMP-13, which may also contribute to the pathology of chronic wounds, was inhibited about 100-fold less potently by compound 7. Compound 7 potently inhibited cleavage of [(3)H]-fibronectin by MMP-3 (IC(50) = 320 nM) but not cleavage of [(3)H]-gelatin by either MMP-2 or -9 (up to 100 microM). Compound 7 had little effect, at MMP-3 selective concentrations, on keratinocyte migration over a collagen matrix in vitro, which is a model of the re-epithelialization process. Following iv (rat) or topical administration to dermal wounds (rabbit), compound 7 was cleared rapidly (t(1/2) = 23 min) from plasma, but slowly (t(1/2) approximately 3 days) from dermal tissue. In a model of chronic dermal ulcers, topical administration of compound 7 for 6 days substantially inhibited MMP-3 ex vivo. These data suggest compound 7 is sufficiently potent to inhibit MMP-3-mediated matrix degradation while leaving unaffected cellular migration mediated by MMPs 1, 2, and 9. These properties make compound 7 a suitable candidate for progression to clinical trials in human chronic dermal wounds, such as venous ulcers.