Long-term dialysis patients suffer from various complications including atherosclerosis. It has been suggested that metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute to vascular remodeling during the development and progression of human atherosclerosis. Activated human monocytes have been demonstrated to secrete MMPs.In the present study, we measured levels of MMP mRNA in peripheral blood monocytes obtained from patients on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) or hemodialysis (HD) and chronic-renal-failure patients not undergoing dialysis. Twenty patients with chronic renal failure were not undergoing dialysis, 20 patients were on CAPD, 40 patients were on chronic HD and 20 healthy volunteers served as controls. We used cDNA probes encoding for MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3 and MMP-9 and glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase. Higher levels of MMP-9 mRNA in the peripheral blood monocytes were observed in HD patients than in CAPD patients, undialyzed chronic renal failure patients or healthy controls. MMP-9 mRNA levels at the end of HD were not significantly higher than those at the start of HD. MMP-9 mRNA levels from HD patients did not differ among the types of membranes. We could detect minimal MMP-1, MMP-2 and MMP-3 mRNA expression in monocytes from all groups. Serum gelatinase activity was detectable in all samples; however, no significant differences existed among the groups.In summary, MMP-9 mRNA expression is enhanced in monocytes from HD and CAPD patients, and the enhancement may be, in part, associated with cardiovascular complications, including atherosclerosis, in dialysis patients. This increase in monocyte MMP-9 mRNA levels is lower in CAPD patients that it is in HD patients.