Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are known to play a critical role in tissue disintegration, and an elevated level of MMPs is observed in synovium and synovial fluid of joints with rheumatoid arthritis. During joint movement, synovial tissue receives various mechanical stimuli, but effects of mechanical challenges on regulation of MMPs in rheumatic synovium are poorly understood. Focusing on cellular responses to oscillatory fluid shear in human synovial cells, we determined the expression of MMP-1 and MMP-13 by polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting as well as proteolytic activities of total MMPs by a fibril degradation assay and zymography. The results revealed that approximately 0.5 dyn/cm2 oscillatory shear at 1 Hz not only reduced an mRNA level and a protein level of MMP-1 and MMP-13, but it also decreased collagenase and gelatinase activities of total MMPs. Furthermore, the induction of the MMP expression and activities by interleukin-1 was suppressed by the oscillatory shear. Interestingly, the oscillatory shear upregulated the mRNA expression of TIMP-1 and TIMP-2. Our results support a potential role of oscillatory shear in regulating expression and activities of MMPs in the presence and the absence of proinflammatory cytokine.