Recent studies suggest that histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors may therapeutically prevent cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis (OA). Matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease and in the present study we investigated the correlation between HDACs and MMP-13. Comparing the expression of different HDACs in cartilage from OA patients and healthy donors, HDAC7 showed a significant elevation in cartilage from OA patients. High level of HDAC7 expression in OA cartilage was also confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Knockdown of HDAC7 by small interference RNA (siRNA) in SW1353 human chondrosarcoma cells strongly suppressed interleukin (IL)-1-dependent and independent induction of MMP-13 gene expression. In conclusion, elevated HDAC7 expression in human OA may contribute to cartilage degradation via promoting MMP-13 gene expression, suggesting the critical role of MMP-13 in OA pathogenesis.