Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play an important role in the normal morphogenesis, maintenance, and repair of matrix and also have important functions in pathologic conditions characterized by excessive degradation of extracellular matrix, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, periodontitis and in tumor invasion and metastasis. In this study, expression of MMP-1 and -2 mRNA in retrodiscal tissue of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) was examined and compared with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and surgical findings. MMP mRNAs in the retrodiscal tissue samples were detected by reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction. TMJ internal derangement (ID) was categorized as normal disc position, disc displacement with reduction, early stage of disc displacement without reduction (DDsR) and late stage of DDsR. TMJ osteoarthrosis (OA) was classified with normal, mild and advanced OA. The amount of synovial fluid collection was divided into not detected, small, large and extremely large amount on MR T2-weighted imaging. Perforation and adhesion were examined during open surgery of the TMJ. Six out of 37 samples were excluded because of little amount of extracted total mRNA. MMP-2 mRNA was detected whole joints, and so the MMP-2 mRNA seems to be expressed normally in retrodiscal tissue. However, MMP-1 mRNA was expressed in 8 of 31 joints. Frequencies of MMP-1 mRNA expression according to the TMJ IDs, amount of synovial fluid and surgical findings made no significant difference. MMP-1 mRNA was detected more frequently in OA groups (7/16 joints, 43.8%) than in normal bony structure group (1/15,joints, 6.7%). Expression of MMP-1 mRNA in retrodiscal tissue might be related with OA of the TMJ.