Inflammation is recognized as a key component in the pathogenesis of dry eye and a variety of ocular surface diseases. Stress-activated protein kinases have been identified as pathways signaling ocular surface stresses, such as increased tear film osmolarity and ultraviolet light exposure. Activation of these stress pathways results in transcription of stress related genes, including inflammatory cytokines (e.g. interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), such as MMP-9. Treatment of osmo-stressed cultured corneal epithelia with inhibitors of the stress associated kinase c-jun N-terminal kinases was found to decrease production of MMPs by these cells. These findings suggest that SAPKs may be key therapeutic targets for dry eye and ocular surface diseases.