Matrix degrading metalloproteinases are enzymes that degrade proteins in tissue extracellular matrices. These proteinases exhibit specific, well defined properties that allow them to be classified into a family of enzymes. They are secreted by various cell types as the cells effect their surrounding extracellular matrix. Such effects occur during normal physiologic tissue remodeling but also during pathologic processes such as tumor cell invasion and metastases. Currently there are seven proteases classified as members of the matrix metalloproteinase family and there are two putative members. Direct correlations can be made between the matrix metalloproteinases and normal tissue functions such as bone remodeling, uterine and mammary gland function and ovulation. The matrix metalloproteinases are also strongly associated with cancer progression in that they function to degrade epithelial basement membrane and stromal matrices in many different malignancies including brain tumors.