The blood-brain barrier (BBB) formed by brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVEC) regulates the passage of molecules and leukocytes in and out of the brain. Oxidative stress is a major underlying cause of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory disorders and BBB injury associated with them. Using human BMVEC grown on porous membranes covered with basement membrane (BM) matrix (BBB models), we demonstrated that reactive oxygen species (ROS) augmented permeability and monocyte migration across BBB. ROS activated matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1, -2, and -9) and decreased tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMP-1 and -2) in a protein tyrosine kinase (PTK)-dependent manner. Increase in MMPs and PTK activities paralleled degradation of BM protein and enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of tight junction (TJ) protein. These effects and enhanced permeability/monocyte migration were prevented by inhibitors of MMPs, PTKs, or antioxidant suggesting that oxidative stress caused BBB injury via degradation of BM protein by activated MMPs and by PTK-mediated TJ protein phosphorylation. These findings point to new therapeutic interventions ameliorating BBB dysfunction in neurological disorders such as stroke or neuroinflammation.