The purpose of this study was to determine the expression of metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs) in the aqueous humour of patients with exfoliation syndrome (XFS). XFS and control samples were analysed for their MMP content by zymography and for their tissue inhibitors by ELISA. In XFS eyes, an increase for up to 60% in almost all MMPs was observed, as compared to the controls. MMP-2 and MMP-9 were found to predominate. TIMP-1 levels in XFS samples were slightly decreased, while TIMP-2 levels were similar to those of the controls. Our findings suggest that MMPs may be crucial in the progression of XFS, by degrading the abnormal fibrillar matrix components in the anterior segment tissues of XFS eyes. However, the increased levels of MMPs seem not to be able to overcome the overproduction and accumulation of the exfoliative material.