Aggrecanases are considered to play a key role in the destruction of articular cartilage during the progression of arthritis. Here we report that the N-terminal inhibitory domain of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 3 (N-TIMP-3), but not TIMP-1 or TIMP-2, inhibits glycosaminoglycan release from bovine nasal and porcine articular cartilage explants stimulated with interleukin-1α or retinoic acid in a dose-dependent manner. This inhibition is due to the blocking of aggrecanase activity induced by the catabolic factors. Little apoptosis of primary porcine chondrocytes is observed at an effective concentration of N-TIMP-3. These results suggest that TIMP-3 may be a candidate agent for use against cartilage degradation.