Patients undergoing long-term continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) sometimes experience ultrafiltration failure. Mesothelial basement membrane thickening and the accumulation of submesothelial fibrotic tissue are common features of the diseased peritoneum. Peritonitis can lead to ultrafiltration failure, but the precise mechanism is not clear. The key enzymes in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, namely matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), are produced by human peritoneal mesothelial cells. Using peritoneal effluent from 13 CAPD patients with peritonitis and 7 noninfected CAPD control individuals, we examined MMP and TIMP activities by gelatin and reverse zymography. Latent and activated types of MMP-2 and -9, and TIMP-1 and -2 were identified in peritoneal effluent (from all CAPD patients). Levels of latent and activated type MMP-9, as well as of TIMP-1 activities were higher at the onset of peritonitis than either during the recovery phase of peritonitis and/ or in control individuals. Activated MMP-9 activity positively correlated with leukocyte numbers and IL-6 levels in peritoneal effluent. Activities of MMP-2 and TIMP-2 in peritoneal effluent did not change between the onset of peritonitis and recovery. We concluded that increased MMP-9 and TIMP-1 levels might be associated with peritoneal ECM remodeling during peritonitis.