Recent evidences have demonstrated an important role for glomerular visceral epithelial cell (podocyte) in the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy. We investigated the high-glucose (HG)-triggered signaling pathway and its role in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) production in murine podocytes. The activity of 92-kDa (MMP-9) gelatinase, but not of 72 kDa (MMP-2), in an HG medium significantly increased during incubation of 2 to 3 days and decreased during incubation of more than 5 days revealed by Gelatin zymography. Opposite to the increases in MMP-9 activity, HG medium produced significant decreases in the protein levels of alpha5(IV) collagen. Changes in MMP-9 activity were associated with the same pattern as MMP-9 mRNA levels in podocytes exposed to HG media. HG medium rapidly activated ERK1/2 MAPK in podocytes. Moreover, ERK1/2 activation was required for HG-induced enhancement of MMP-9 activity and a decrease in the level of alpha5(IV) collagen. HG incubation rapidly induced an increase in the nuclear accumulation of Ets-1 protein. Blocking the ERK pathway suppressed HG-induced expression and nuclear accumulation of transcriptional factor Ets-1, and MMP-9 mRNA expression. We suggest that short- or long-term exposure to HG concentrations increases or decreases MMP-9 production and alpha5(IV) collagen expression in podocytes, this may contribute to the GBM abnormality caused by an imbalance in extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis and degradation, and may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of proteinuria in diabetic nephropathy.