1. Ro 32-3555 (3(R)-(cyclopentylmethyl)-2(R)-[(3,4,4-trimethyl-2,5-dioxo-1- imidazolidinyl)methyl]-4-oxo-4-piperidinobutyrohydroxamic acid) is a potent, competitive inhibitor of human collagenases 1, 2 and 3 (Ki values of 3.0, 4.4 and 3.4 nM, respectively). The compound is a selective inhibitor of collagenases over the related human matrix metalloproteinases stromelysin 1, and gelatinases A and B (Ki values of 527, 154 and 59 nM, respectively). 2. Ro 32-3555 inhibited interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha)-induced cartilage collagen degradation in vitro in bovine nasal cartilage explants (IC50 = 60 nM). 3. Ro 32-3555 was well absorbed in rats when administered orally. Systemic exposure was dose related, with an oral bioavailability of 26% at a dose of 25 mg kg-1. 4. Ro 32-3555 prevented granuloma-induced degradation of bovine nasal cartilage cylinders implanted subcutaneously into rats (ED50 = 10 mg kg-1, twice daily, p.o.). 5. Ro 32-3555 dosed once daily for 14 days at 50 mg kg-1, p.o., inhibited degradation of articular cartilage in a rat monoarthritis model induced by an intra-articular injection of Propionibacterium acnes. 6. Ro 32-3555 is a potential therapy for the treatment of the chronic destruction of articulating cartilage in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.