The activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is regulated at several levels, including enzyme activation, inhibition, complex formation and compartmentalization. Regulation at the transcriptional level is also important, although this is not a subject of the present minireview. Most MMPs are secreted and have their function in the extracellular environment. This is also the case for the membrane-type MMPs (MT-MMPs). MMPs are also found inside cells, both in the nucleus, cytosol and organelles. The role of intracellular located MMPs is still poorly understood, although recent studies have unraveled some of their functions. The localization, activation and activity of MMPs are regulated by their interactions with other proteins, proteoglycan core proteins and/or their glycosaminoglycan chains, as well as other molecules. Complexes formed between MMPs and various molecules may also include interactions with noncatalytic sites. Such exosites are regions involved in substrate processing, localized outside the active site, and are potential binding sites of specific MMP inhibitors. Knowledge about regulation of MMP activity is essential for understanding various physiological processes and pathogenesis of diseases, as well as for the development of new MMP targeting drugs.