Oxidative stress may cause tissue injury through activation of the precursors of matrix metalloproteinase (proMMPs). In this study, we observed glutathione (GSH)-dependent proMMP activation induced by peroxynitrite, a potent oxidizing agent formed during inflammatory processes. Peroxynitrite strongly activated all three types of purified human proMMPs (proMMP-1, -8, and -9) in the presence of similar concentrations of GSH. Of the potential reaction products between peroxynitrite and GSH, only S-nitroglutathione (GSNO 2) caused proMMP activation. Extensive S-glutathiolation of the proMMP protein occurred during activation of proMMP by peroxynitrite and GSH, as shown by radiolabeling studies with [35S]GSH of [ 3H]GSH. Evidence of appreciable S-glutathiolation persisted even after dithiothreitol and protein-denaturing treatment, however, suggesting that some S-glutathiolation did not occur through formation of simple mixed disulfide. Matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry indicated that not only peroxynitrite plus GSH but also synthetic GSNO2 produced dithiothreitol-resistant S-glutathiolation of the synthetic peptide PRCGVPD, which is a well conserved Cys-containing sequence of the propeptide autoinhibitory domain of proMMPs. PRCGVPD S-glutathiolation is presumed to be formed through glutathione disulfide S-oxide (GS(O)SR), based on the m/z 1064. Our results illustrate a unique mechanism of oxidative proMMP activation and oxidative tissue injury during inflammation.