Membrane type 1-matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) is capable of mediating proteolysis of extracellular matrix. The enzyme has been demonstrated in osteoclasts, in vitro. However, the precise localization in vivo, and therefore the function of the enzyme in osteoclasts, is still unclear. In this study, we immunohistochemically examined the localization of MT1-MMP in rat osteoclasts to clarify the role of MT1-MMP in osteoclastic bone resorption and bone turnover. The localization of MT1-MMP was visualized by the pre-embedding method using anti-MT1-MMP antibody and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) or gold-conjugated antibody. Immunoreactivity of anti-MT1-MMP was found in osteoclasts at the osteoclast-bone interface, but it was not uniform. Ultrastructurally, the immunoreactivity visualized by HRP was found in sealing zone. The plasma membrane at this site showed an irregular border and some invaginations. Immunoreactivity was also found on the surface of certain small vesicles in the cytoplasm. Enhanced silver granules were mainly associated with the sealing membrane. In this study, we demonstrated, for the first time, the localization of MT1-MMP in the sealing zone of osteoclast in vivo. Its distribution suggests that the enzyme modifies the bone surface to facilitate the migration and attachment of osteoclasts as well as scavenging the resorption lacunae.