Chronic monarticular arthritis can be induced in ovalbumin-sensitized rabbits by intraarticular injection of ovalbumin (antigen-induced arthritis) or in naive rabbits by injecting hyaluronic acid mixed with the polycation poly-D-lysine (polycation-induced arthritis). Both models show some points of similarity, including joint swelling, the presence of inflammatory leukocytes and the inflammatory mediator prostaglandin E2, and the kinetics of cartilage proteoglycan loss. However, the assessment of the capacity of synovial lining and articular cartilage to synthesize and secrete neutral metalloproteinases reveals a difference between these models. We found that articular cartilage from the inflamed joints of rabbits with antigen-induced arthritis did not synthesize neutral metalloproteinases, although the synovial lining did. In contrast, both the synovial lining and the articular cartilage from the inflamed joints of rabbits with polycation-induced arthritis synthesized neutral metalloproteinases. These findings suggest that in inflammatory synovitis, different mechanisms can operate to produce damage to the matrix of articular cartilage.