The matrix metalloproteinases and related A disintegrin and metalloproteinase enzymes are implicated in various diseases of the nervous system. However, metalloproteinases are increasingly being recognized as having beneficial roles during nervous system development and following injury. This review discusses general principles that govern the expression of metalloproteinases in the nervous system and their detrimental outcomes. It then focuses on the roles of metalloproteinases and their mechanisms in regulating neurogenesis, myelin formation and axonal growth. It is clear that metalloproteinases are important determinants in enabling recovery from injury to the nervous system.