Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors (TIMPs) function to remodel the pericellular environment. Their activation and regulation are associated with synaptic physiology and pathology. Here, we investigated whether MMP-2 and MMP-9 are involved in the rewarding effects of and sensitization to methamphetamine (METH) in animals, in which the remodelling of neural circuits may play a crucial role. Repeated METH treatment induced behavioural sensitization, which was accompanied by an increase in MMP-2 and MMP-9 activity in the brain. In MMP-2- and MMP-9-deficient mice [MMP-2-(-/-) and MMP-9-(-/-)], METH-induced behavioural sensitization and conditioned place preference, a measure of the rewarding effect, as well as METH-increased dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) were attenuated compared with those in wild-type mice. In contrast, infusion of purified human MMP-2 into the NAc significantly potentiated the METH-increased dopamine release. The [3H]dopamine uptake into striatal synaptosomes was reduced in wild-type mice after repeated METH treatment, but METH-induced changes in [3H]dopamine uptake were significantly attenuated in MMP-2-(-/-) and MMP-9-(-/-) mice. These results suggest that both MMP-2 and MMP-9 play a crucial role in METH-induced behavioural sensitization and reward by regulating METH-induced dopamine release and uptake in the NAc. © 2007 The Authors.