Stromal expression of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) has been associated with increasing tumour burden in prostate cancer. We investigated the expression of mRNA (by RT-PCR) and protein (by zymography and western blotting) of MMPs and endogenous inhibitors (tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases, TIMPs) in two parent epithelial prostate cancer cell lines and sublines of increasing invasive/metastatic potential. Expression of membrane type MMPs, MT1-MMP and MT3-MMP mRNA was higher in PC3-derived than in LNCaP-derived lines, whereas MT2-MMP mRNA expression was higher in the LNCaP derived than in PC3-derived cell lines. Active MT1, MT2 and MT3-MMP protein levels were similar in all lines, but processed MT-MMPs, indicative of latent MMP activation, were increased in more aggressive sublines. Expression of MMP-1, MMP-13 and TIMP-1 was higher in the more aggressive sublines and may be implicated in invasive/metastatic ability. Regulation of MMP-1 and MMP-13 expression may offer important therapeutic options for treating patients with prostate cancer.