Matrix metalloproteases (MMP) constitute a family of proteolytic enzymes degrading extracellular matrix components. Their activity is inhibited by tissue inhibitors of metalloproteases (TIMP). Previous studies have demonstrated that various cytokines can modulate MMP and TIMP gene expression. In this study, we demonstrate that interferon-gamma coordinately upregulates MMP-1 (interstitial collagenase) and MMP-3 (stromelysin-1) gene expression in cultured keratinocytes, as determined at the mRNA steady-state levels, and this effect is dependent on on-going protein synthesis. In contrast, there was no effect on TIMP-1 gene expression. Enhanced MMP-1 expression by IFN-gamma was also demonstrated at the protein level by Western analysis. Transient transfections with MMP-1 and MMP-3 promoter/reporter gene constructs revealed no response to IFN-gamma, whereas incubation of keratinocytes with this cytokine appeared to stabilize the MMP-1 mRNA, resulting in reduced turnover of the transcript. These data suggest that IFN-gamma enhances MMP gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. The altered MMP expression by IFN-gamma without concomitant effect on TIMP gene expression potentially leads to imbalance between these proteases and their inhibitors, and enhanced proteolytic activity may play a role in the remodeling of cutaneous tissue involving inflammatory processes, such as wound healing.