Proteins with JAB1/MPN/MOV34 metalloenzyme (JAMM/MPN+) domains are widespread among all domains of life, yet poorly understood. Here we report the purification and characterization of an archaeal JAMM/MPN+ domain protein (HvJAMM1) from Haloferax volcanii that cleaves ubiquitin-like small archaeal modifier proteins (SAMP1/2) from protein conjugates. HvJAMM1 cleaved SAMP1/2 conjugates generated in H. volcanii as well as isopeptide- and linear-linked SAMP1–MoaE in purified form. Cleavage of linear linked SAMP1–MoaE was dependent on the presence of the SAMP domain and the C-terminal VSGG motif of this domain. While HvJAMM1 was inhibited by size exclusion chromatography and metal chelators, its activity could be restored by addition of excess ZnCl2. HvJAMM1 residues (Glu31, His88, His90, Ser98 and Asp101) that were conserved with the JAMM/MPN+ active-site motif were required for enzyme activity. Together, these results provide the first example of a JAMM/MPN+ zinc metalloprotease that independently catalyses the cleavage of ubiquitin-like (isopeptide and linear) bonds from target proteins. In archaea, HvJAMM1 likely regulates sampylation and the pools of ‘free’ SAMP available for protein modification. HvJAMM1-type proteins are thought to release the SAMPs from proteins modified post-translationally as well as those synthesized as domain fusions.