The use of exogenous proteases to improve meat tenderness has attracted much interest recently, with a view to consistent production of tender meat and added value to lower grade meat cuts. This review discusses the sources, characteristics, and use of exogenous proteases in meat tenderization to highlight the specificity of the proteases toward meat proteins and their impact on meat quality. Plant enzymes (such as papain, bromelain, and ficin) have been extensively investigated as meat tenderizers. New plant proteases (actinidin and zingibain) and microbial enzyme preparations have been of recent interest due to controlled meat tenderization and other advantages. Successful use of these enzymes in fresh meat requires their enzymatic kinetics and characteristics to be determined, together with an understanding of the impact of the surrounding environmental conditions of the meat (pH, temperature) on enzyme function. This enables the optimal conditions for tenderizing fresh meat to be established, and the elimination or reduction of any negative impacts on other quality attributes.