The process of new capillary formation from preexisting vessels, angiogenesis, is a complex physiological event which is strictly controlled, occurring only very rarely under normal conditions. In contrast, there are a number of serious diseases, among them solid tumor growth, rheumatoid arthritis and several eye diseases, which are characterized by unrestricted new capillary growth and which are described as "angiogenic diseases." One of the key events required for successful angiogenesis is extracellular proteolysis. Increased attention has been focused on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family of enzymes whose activity is a rate-limiting step in extracellular matrix remodeling. This review will present the accumulating body of evidence, from a number of laboratories, which documents the important role of MMP activity in the regulation of angiogenesis. Taken together, these data suggest that one strategy for controlling the deregulated angiogenesis characteristic of these serious angiogenic diseases may be one which is operative at the level of the control of MMP activity.