The role of the matrix metalloprotease-2 (MMP-2) in regulating Ca(2+)-ATPase activity in bovine pulmonary artery smooth muscle plasma membranes during treatment with the O2*- generating system, hypoxanthine (HPX) plus xanthine oxidase (XO) has been studied. The smooth muscle membranes possess matrix metalloprotease (MMP) activity in gelatin zymogram, having an apparent molecular mass of 72 kDa; the activity is inhibited by the tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease-2 (TIMP-2). Since both protease and MMP-2 have same molecular mass and are inhibited by TIMP-2, it may, therefore, be suggested that the protease is the MMP-2. Treatment of the smooth muscle membrane suspension with the O2*- generating system stimulates MMP-2 activity, as evidenced by an apparent increase in the intensity of the protease activity. O2*- also enhances [14C]-gelatin degradation and Ca(2+)-ATPase activity. The increase in MMP activity, assessed by [14C]-gelatin degradation and Ca(2+)-ATPase activity are inhibited upon pretreatment with superoxide dismutase (SOD). The O2*- triggered MMP and Ca(2+)-ATPase activities in the membrane are found to be inhibited by TIMP-2. The stimulation of the MMP and Ca(2+)-ATPase activities remain unaffected by the inhibitors of serine, thiol and cysteine groups of proteases such as phenylmethylsulfonylfluoride (PMSF), Bowman Birk inhibitor (BBI), chymostatin, N-ethylmaleimide, leupeptin, antipain and pepstatin. Adding pure bovine MMP-2 to the smooth muscle membrane suspension causes an increase in Ca(2+)-ATPase activity, but the pretreatment with TIMP-2 inhibits the increase in the enzyme activity.