ABSTRACT: Bisphosphonates are a group of drugs capable of inhibiting bone resorption, and are thus used for the treatment of bone diseases, such as Paget's disease, osteoporosis, and for bone metastases of malignant tumors. Their primary cellular target is considered to be the osteoclast. The molecular mechanisms responsible for the downregulation of bone resorption by bisphosphonates have remain unclear. We have discovered that various matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are inhibited in vitro by several bisphosphonates. This novel finding may, in part, explain the efficacy of bisphosphonates in their current indications in humans. In enzyme activity tests using purified and recombinant enzymes, we have observed the inhibition of MMP-1, -2, -3, -7, -8, -9, -12, -13, and -14 by clondronate, alendronate, pamidronate, zolendronate, nedrinate, and clodrinate. The IC50s range from 50 to 150 μM. We have also shown that clodronate can downregulate the expression of MT1-MMP protein and mRNA in several cell lines. Additionally, several bisphosphonates decrease the degree of invasion of malignant melanoma (C8161) and fibrosarcoma (HT1080) cells through artificial basement membrane (Matrigel) in cell cultures at IC50s of 50-150 μM and below. Having low toxicity and proven to be well tolerated after several years in human use, bisphosphonates have the potential to become one of the main MMP-inhibitors for MMP-related human soft and hard tissue-destructive diseases in the near future.