Macrophage elastase, also called MMP12, belongs to a family of proteolytic enzymes whose best known physiological function is the remodeling of the extracellular matrix. Under certain pathological conditions, including inflammation, chronic overexpression of MMP12 has been observed and its elevated proteolytic activity has been suggested to be the cause of pulmonary emphysema. However, it was until recently impossible to monitor the activity of MMP12 under disease conditions, mainly due to a lack of detection methods. Recent development of new reporters for monitoring MMP12 activity in living cells, such as LaRee1, provided novel insights into the pathobiology of MMP12 in pulmonary inflammation.1 In the future, these reporters might contribute to improved diagnosis and in finding better treatments for chronic inflammatory lung diseases and emphysema. Our approach for visualizing MMP12 activity is based on peptidic, membrane-targeted FRET (Foerster Resonance Energy Transfer) reporters. Here we describe a set of new reporters containing different fluorophore pairs as well as modifications in the membrane-targeting lipid moiety. We studied the influence of these modifications on reporter performance and the reporter mobility on live cell membranes by FRAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching). Finally, we generated several new fluorescently labeled MMP inhibitors based on the peptidic reporter structures as prototypes for future tools to inhibit and monitor MMP activity at the same time.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.