We identify matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-8, the polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocyte collagenase, as a critical mediator initiating lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-responsiveness in vivo. PMN infiltration towards LPS is abrogated in Mmp8-null mice. MMP-8 cleaves LPS-induced CXC chemokine (LIX) at Ser4∼Val5 and Lys79∼Arg80. LIX bioactivity is increased upon N-terminal cleavage, enhancing intracellular calcium mobilization and chemotaxis upon binding its cognate receptor, CXCR2. As there is no difference in PMN chemotaxis in Mmp8-null mice compared with wild-type mice towards synthetic analogues of MMP-8-cleaved LIX, MMP-8 is not essential for extravasation or cell migration in collagenous matrices in vivo. However, with biochemical redundancy between MMPs 1, 2, 9, and 13, which also cleave LIX at position 4∼5, it was surprising to observe such a markedly reduced PMN infiltration towards LPS and LIX in Mmp8-/- mice. This lack of physiological redundancy in vivo identifies MMP-8 as a key mediator in the regulation of innate immunity. Comparable results were found with CXCL8/IL-8 and CXCL5/ENA-78, the human orthologues of LIX. MMP-8 cleaves CXCL8 at Arg5-Ser6 and at Val7-Leu8 in CXCL5 to activate respective chemokines. Hence, rather than collagen, these PMN chemoattractants are important MMP-8 substrates in vivo; PMN-derived MMP-8 cleaves and activates LIX to execute an in cis PMN-controlled feed-forward mechanism to orchestrate the initial inflammatory response and promote LPS responsiveness in tissue.