The corpus luteum (CL) offers the opportunity to study high proliferative processes during its development and degradation processes during its regression. We examined the mRNA expression of matrix metalloproteases (MMP)-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-14, MMP-19, tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP)-1, TIMP-2, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), uPA-receptor (uPAR), PA-inhibitors (PAI)-1, PAI-2 in follicles 20 h after GnRH application, CLs during days 1–2, 3–4, 5–7 and 8–12 of the oestrous cycle as well as after induced luteolysis. Cows in the mid-luteal phase were injected with Cloprostenol and the CLs were collected at 0.5, 2, 4, 12, 24, 48 and 64 h after PGF2α injection. Real-time RT-PCR determined mRNA expressions. Expression from 20 h after GnRH to day 12: MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-14 and tPA showed a clear expression, but no regulation. TIMP-1 and uPAR mRNA increased when compared with the follicular phase. TIMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-19 and uPA increased from the follicular phase to days 8–12. PAI-1 and PAI-2 expression increased from days 1–7 and decreased to days 8–12. Induced luteolysis: MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-14, MMP-19 and TIMP-1 all increased at different time points and intensities, whereas TIMP-2 was constantly decreased from 24 to 64 h. The plasminogen activator system and their inhibitors were up-regulated from 2 to 64 h, tPA was already increased after 0.5 h. Immunohistochemistry for MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-14: an increased staining for MMP-1 and MMP-14 was seen in large luteal cells beginning 24 h after PGF2α application. MMP-2 showed a strong increase in staining in endothelial cells at 48 h.