Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of zinc-dependent endopeptidases that degrade extracellular matrix components and play important roles in a variety of biological and pathological processes such as malignant tumor metastasis and invasion. In this study, we constructed carnosine–gallic acid peptide (CGP) to identify a better MMP inhibitor than carnosine. The inhibitory effects of CGP on MMP-2 and MMP-9 were investigated in the human fibrosarcoma (HT1080) cell line. As a result, CGP significantly decreased MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression levels without a cytotoxic effect. Moreover, CGP may inhibit migration and invasion in HT1080 cells through the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA)–uPA receptor signaling pathways to inhibit MMP-2 and MMP-9. Based on these results, it appears that CGP may play an important role in preventing and treating several MMP-2 and MMP-9-mediated health problems such as metastasis. Copyright © 2014 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.