Periodontitis is characterized by periodontal tissue destruction. Since interleukin-17 (IL-17) has been reported to up-regulate IL-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), it was hypothesized that it is increased in periodontitis and up-regulates these cytokines and tissue-destructive matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) in local migrant and resident cells. Immunocytochemistry disclosed elevated IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, and IL-17 levels in periodontitis. These cytokines induced proMMP-1 and especially MMP-3 in gingival fibroblasts, whereas MMP-8 and MMP-9 were not induced. IL-17 was less potent as a direct MMP inducer than IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha, but it induced IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha production from macrophages, and IL-6 and IL-8 from gingival fibroblasts. In accordance with these findings, immunocytochemistry disclosed that MMP-1 and MMP-3 were increased in periodontitis. Gingival fibroblasts may play an important role in tissue destruction in periodontitis via cytokine-inducible MMP-1 and MMP-3 production, in which IL-17 plays a role as a key regulatory cytokine.