Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) are characterized by structural alterations of the aortic wall resulting from degradation of collagen and elastin. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), particularly MMP-2 and MMP-9, show strong elastinolytic activity. We examined the levels of mRNA for MMP-2, MMP-9, membrane type (MT)-MMP-1, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), and TIMP-2 in AAAs (n = 8), atherosclerotic occlusive diseases (AOD) (n = 8), and normal subjects (n = 8) using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). We also analyzed the gelatinolytic activity of these metalloproteinases using gelatin zymography. The levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9 mRNA were increased in the AAA group compared with those in the AOD group and normal subjects. The levels for TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 mRNA in the AAA group were also higher than those in the AOD and normal groups. Only in the case of MT-MMP-1 was the difference between AAA and AOD not statistically significant. By gelatin zymography with the same samples used for RT-PCR, gelatinolytic activity of MMP-9 was elevated in all AAA tissues. The 62-kDa form of MMP-2 was elevated in both the AAA and AOD groups and did not differ significantly between them. Linear regression analysis demonstrated a significant positive correlation between mRNA levels of MMPs and those of TIMPs. These observations suggest that aneurysm formation in patients with atherosclerosis is related to the degree of MMP-9 expression.