Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is involved in atherogenesis, and the production of MMP-9 in macrophages is considered to be mediated by the arachidonic acid cascade. The present study examined the possible involvement of group IVA phospholipase A2 (IVA-PLA2), a key enzyme in the arachidonic acid cascade, in the production of MMP-9 induced by oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) in macrophages and high-fat diet-induced formation of atherosclerotic lesions using IVA-PLA2-deficient mice (C57BL/6 background). In wild-type mouse peritoneal macrophages, oxLDL induced an increase in MMP-9 in the culture medium. The oxLDL-promoted production of MMP-9 was markedly reduced in IVA-PLA2-deficient macrophages compared to wild-type macrophages. Feeding of wild-type mice with a high-fat diet caused the formation of early atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic root with increases in MMP-9 and macrophages in the lesions and with higher serum levels of total cholesterol. Such lesions were apparently less severe in IVA-PLA2-deficient mice fed a high-fat diet, despite higher total cholesterol levels. Under the conditions, a high-fat diet reduced the serum levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) in wild-type mice. However, IVA-PLA2-deficient mice fed a high-fat diet were protected against the decrease in HDL-C levels. The present results suggest that IVA-PLA2 is involved in the oxLDL-induced production of MMP-9 in macrophages and the high-fat diet-induced formation of early atherosclerotic lesions. The protection against the lesions in IVA-PLA2-deficient mice may be ascribable, in part, to the impaired production of MMP-9 and/or the maintained levels of HDL-C.