Considerable evidence has implicated matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a group of zinc-dependent endopeptidases, in the degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) during the metastatic process. Most MMPs are secreted as inactive zymogens and are activated extracellularly. Over expression of MMP-1, -2, -3. -7, -9, -13, and MT1-MMP has been demonstrated in human colorectal cancers. The degree of over expression of some MMPs has been noted to correlate with stage of disease and/or prognosis. An unresolved debate has centered on whether MMPs are produced by the stromal cells surrounding a tumor or by the colorectal cancer cells themselves. MMP-7 is produced abundantly by colorectal cancer cells. The presence of a mutation in the APC gene results in nuclear accumulation of the beta-Catenin/TCF complex, which serves as a transcriptional factor that upregulates MMP-7 expression. Increased expression of MMP-3 in colorectal cancer correlates with low levels of microsatelite instability and poor prognosis. Increased levels of MMP-9 (produced primarily by inflammatory cells) have been demonstrated early in the transition from colon adenoma to adenocarcinoma. In contrast to other MMPs, overexpression of MMP-12 is associated with increased survival in colorectal cancer, presumably as a result of an inhibitory effect on angiogenesis. Based on the assumption that MMPs were responsible for metastasis, several orally active, low molecular weight inhibitors of MMPs (MMPIs) have been developed. These MMPIs have been effective in controlling cancer progression in animals, but have failed to prolong survival in phase III clinical trials in patients with advanced cancer. MMPIs have not yet been evaluated in patients with colorectal cancer.