Focal cerebral ischemia leads to the gradual disruption of the extracellular matrix. A key role in the turnover of the extracellular matrix is played by the system of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). In this study we describe changes of the MMP inducer protein (EMMPRIN) following experimental cerebral ischemia (induced for 3 h and followed by 24 h reperfusion, suture model) in rats. Extracellular EMMPRIN was measured by Western blot of the ischemic and nonischemic basal ganglia and cortex separately. Compared with the contralateral nonischemic area, the ischemic hemisphere showed a significant increase in EMMPRIN: basal ganglia, 158% ± 4% (P < 0.05); cortex, 128% ± 25% (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry was used to localize EMMPRIN on cerebral microvessels. EMMPRIN-positive microvascular structures were quantified by automatic morphometric video-imaging analysis and a significant increase in the number of cerebral microvessels staining positive for EMMPRIN in the ischemic basal ganglia was shown. The significant loss of microvascular basal lamina antigen collagen type IV in ischemic cortex and basal ganglia was calculated by Western blot. Measured by gelatin zymography, we demonstrated an MMP-2 and MMP-9 increase in the ischemic brain regions (P < 0.05). For the first time the MMP activation system EMMPRIN was shown to be relevant in cerebral ischemia. These results raise the possibility that the increased expression of EMMPRIN, the increase in MMPs and the damage of the basal lamina following cerebral ischemia are connected and part of a network of related changes.