Chronic tendon pathology (tendinopathy), although common, is difficult to treat. Tendons possess a highly organized fibrillar matrix, consisting of type I collagen and various 'minor' collagens, proteoglycans and glycoproteins. The tendon matrix is maintained by the resident tenocytes, and there is evidence of a continuous process of matrix remodeling, although the rate of turnover varies at different sites. A change in remodeling activity is associated with the onset of tendinopathy. Major molecular changes include increased expression of type III collagen, fibronectin, tenascin C, aggrecan and biglycan. These changes are consistent with repair, but they might also be an adaptive response to changes in mechanical loading. Repeated minor strain is thought to be the major precipitating factor in tendinopathy, although further work is required to determine whether it is mechanical overstimulation or understimulation that leads to the change in tenocyte activity. Metalloproteinase enzymes have an important role in the tendon matrix, being responsible for the degradation of collagen and proteoglycan in both healthy patients and those with disease. Metalloproteinases that show increased expression in painful tendinopathy include ADAM (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase)-12 and MMP (matrix metalloproteinase)-23. The role of these enzymes in tendon pathology is unknown, and further work is required to identify novel and specific molecular targets for therapy.