Members of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family are important for the remodeling of the extracellular matrix in a number of biological processes including a variety of immune responses. Two members of the family, MMP2 and MMP9, are highly expressed in specific myeloid cell populations in which they play a role in the innate immune response. To further expand the repertoire of molecular reagents available to study zebrafish myeloid cell development, the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (mmp9) gene from this organism has been identified and characterized. The encoded protein is 680 amino acids with high homology to known MMP9 proteins, particularly those of other teleost fish. Maternal transcripts of mmp9 are deposited in the oocyte and dispersed throughout the early embryo. These are replaced by specific zygotic transcripts in the notochord from 12h post fertilization (hpf) and also transiently in the anterior mesoderm from 14 to 16h post fertilization. From 24h post fertilization, mmp9 expression was detected in a population of circulating white blood cells that are distinct from macrophages, and which migrate to the site of trauma, and so likely represent zebrafish heterophils. In the adult, mmp9 expression was most prominent in the splenic cords, a site occupied by mature myeloid cells in other species. These results suggest that mmp9 will serve as a useful marker of mature myeloid cells in the zebrafish.