Significant airway remodelling is a major component of the increased morbidity and mortality observed in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. These airways feature ongoing leukocytic inflammation and unrelenting bacterial infection. In contrast to acute bacterial pneumonia, CF infection is not cleared efficiently and the ensuing inflammatory response causes tissue damage. This structural damage is mainly a result of free proteolytic activity released by infiltrated neutrophils and macrophages. Major proteases in this disease are serine and matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). While the role of serine proteases, such as elastase, has been characterised in detail, there is emerging evidence that MMPs could play a key role in the pathogenesis of CF lung disease. This review summarises studies linking MMP swith CF lung disease and discusses the potential value of MMPs as future therapeutic targets in CF and other chronic lung diseases. Copyright©ERS 2011.