Profound hormonally controlled tissue remodelling occurs in the equine ovary for follicle growth and development, and also for the alteration in follicle shape directed towards the ovulation fossa, the site where ovulation occurs. The aim of this study was to examine the spatial and temporal regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and MMP-9, important enzymes in tissue remodelling, during follicle growth, and ovulation. Using gelatin substrate zymography, we measured these MMPs in follicular fluid of large anovulatory follicles collected during spring transition, early dominant follicles (> 23 mm), and at oestrus in follicles approximately 3 days prior to ovulation, and post-hCG treatment when ovulation was predicted in approximately 4 h. The most abundant activity detected in follicular fluid was MMP-2, although there were no changes in secretion or activation in association with ovulation. The activity of MMP-9 was detected in lower amounts, with no changes prior to ovulation, although it decreased significantly (P <0.05) post-hCG treatment. At oestrus, when different regions of the ovary were maintained in explant culture for 24 h, there were no significant changes in either MMP-2 or MMP-9 secretion by stromal tissues collected at the ovarian fossa, adjacent to the preovulatory follicle but away from the fossa, and a further site remote from the preovulatory follicle. Over this same time period, follicular progesterone (P <0.01) and oestradiol (P <0.05) increased significantly, although oestradiol tended to decrease after hCG administration. These findings indicate that MMP-2 and MMP-9 are not key acute regulators for the changes in follicle shape immediately prior to ovulation.