Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in extracellular matrix modification and associated with invasive and metastatic behavior of human malignant tumors. Specifically, MMP2 and MMP9 are implicated in both early and late processes of tumor development. It is reported that MMPs occur as inactive precursors, active enzymes or enzyme inhibitor complexes in biological samples. However, there is limited knowledge on the role of each form in disease and/or the significance of changes in the plasma concentration and/or activity in breast cancer patients. The aim of this study was to determine if patients with breast cancer, benign disease and at risk for developing breast cancer display characteristic levels of active and/or total MMP2 and MMP9 in plasma. Concentration and activity of MMP2 and MMP9 were determined quantitatively in the plasma of 124 female volunteers diagnosed with breast cancer (n=31), benign disease (n=38), or determined by the Gail Model to be at high risk (n=31) or low risk (controls, n=24) of developing breast cancer. Data obtained was statistically analyzed to search for differences/patterns characteristic of each category. Concentration of total MMP2 was significantly lower in control individuals than benign, high risk (P<0.001 respectively) and breast cancer patients (P=0.002). Activity of total MMP2 was significantly lower in controls compared to cancer, benign and high risk patients (P<0.001 respectively). Attempts to build a predictive/descriptive model using canonical discriminant analysis (utilizing all eight features; concentrations and activity levels of active/total MMP2 and MMP9) enabled the distinction of the controls from the high risk, benign and cancer groups. Our results suggest that preoperative plasma concentration and activity of MMP2 and MMP9 may permit sub-classification of female patients with breast disorders.