An immunohistochemical study was performed using tissue microarrays and specific antibodies against matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 1, 2, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, and their tisullar inhibitors (TIMPs) 1, 2, and 3. More than 2600 determinations on cancer specimens from 131 patients with primary ductal invasive tumours of the breast (65 with and 66 without distant metastasis) and controls were performed. Staining results were categorised using a score based on the intensity of the staining and a specific software program calculated the percentage of immunostained cells automatically. We observed a broad variation of the total immunostaining scores and the cell type expressing each protein. There were multiple and significant associations between the expression of the different MMPs and TIMPs evaluated and some parameters indicative of tumour aggressiveness, such as large tumour size, advanced tumour grade, high Nottinham prognostic index, negative oestrogen receptor status, peritumoural inflammation, desmoplastic reaction, and infiltrating tumoural edge. Likewise, the detection of elevated immunohistochemical scores for MMP-9, 11, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2, was significantly associated with a higher rate of distant metastases. The expression of MMP-9 or TIMP-2 by tumour cells, MMP-1, 7, 9, 11, 13, or TIMP-3 by fibroblastic cells, and MMP-7, 9, 11, 13, 14, TIMP-1, or TIMP-2 by mononuclear inflammatory cells, was also significantly associated with a higher rate of distant metastases.