Keratocystic odontogenic tumors (KCOTs) are locally invasive, rapidly proliferating cystic lesions of the jaw. The bone-invasive nature of these tumors has been previously associated with the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which degrade the extracellular matrix. The purpose of this study was to assess the expression and activity of MMPs in primary KCOT cells and tumor tissue. Methods: Four independently established KCOT primary cell populations were grown in Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium supplemented with 10% FBS and antibiotics. Primary cells were analyzed by qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC), and for secretion of active MMPs. Primary tumor sections were analyzed by IHC. Results: Of the 18 human MMPs examined, 9 were consistently expressed in primary KCOT cells. MMP-2 and MMP-14 were highly expressed in all KCOT populations, while MMP-1, 3, 11, 12, 16, 17, and 19 were moderately expressed. MMP-3, 11, 12, 16, 17 and 19 were shown to be expressed in KCOTs for the first time. No significant differences in MMPS profiles were found between syndromic (KCOT-3) and non-syndromic cell populations (KCOT-1/2/4). Protein expression of MMP-1, 11, 12, 14 and 16 was confirmed in each KCOT cell populations by IHC. KCOT-3 cells secreted active MMP-2 as determined by a gel zymography assay. Expression of MMP-1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 14, and 16 was confirmed in matching primary KCOT tumor sections representing syndromic and non-syndromic KCOTs. Conclusion: KCOT primary cell populations and tumors express a wide range of MMPs, which likely play a role in the bone-invasive nature of these tumors. © 2014 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.