Background Cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM) is a dynamic and metabolically active collagenous network that responds to mechanical strain. The association between ECM turnover and right ventricular failure (RVF) development after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation in patients with advanced heart failure (HF) was investigated. Methods Circulating levels of osteopontin, metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and MPP-9, and tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP)-1 and TIMP-4 were measured in 61 patients at LVAD implantation and explantation and in 10 control subjects. RVF was defined as the need for RVAD, nitric oxide inhalation > 48 hours and/or inotropic support > 14 days. Results All ECM markers were elevated in patients with HF compared with controls (all p < 0.05). RVF developed in 23 patients (37.7%) on LVAD support. All ECM markers decreased on LVAD support in patients without RVF (all p < 0.05), but serum MMP-2, TIMP-1, TIMP-4, and osteopontin remained elevated in RVF patients. Multivariate analysis identified that right ventricular stroke work index (RVSWI), circulating B-type natriuretic peptide, and osteopontin were associated with RVF (all p < 0.05). Osteopontin correlated inversely with RVSWI ( r = −0.44, p < 0.001). Osteopontin levels > 260 ng/ml discriminate patients who develop RVF from those without RVF (sensitivity, 83%; specificity, 82%). Conclusions Marked elevation of osteopontin levels before LVAD placement is associated with RVF development. Persistent elevation of circulating ECM markers after LVAD implantation characterizes patients who develop RVF. These novel biomarkers would have a potential role in the prediction of RVF development in patients undergoing LVAD implantation.