Vascular endothelial cells release proteinases that degrade the extracellular matrix, thus enabling cell migration during angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. Endothelial cells secrete mainly the preform of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (proMMP-2). In this report, we examined several growth factors, cytokines, and other molecules for activation of MMP-2 by human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Of these factors, we found that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the strongest activator of MMP-2. LPS induced MMP-2 activation in a time- and dose-dependent manner. While pretreatment with zinc chelators or nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa B) inhibitors suppressed LPS-induced MMP-2 activation, pretreatment with phosphatidylinositol S'-kinase inhibitors had no effect. These results indicate that, in endothelial cells, LPS can directly enhance angiogenesis by inducing MMP-2 activation mediated through an NF-kappa B pathway, (C) 2000 Academic Press.