Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) is a major cause of acute myocarditis, a serious condition that is refractory to treatment. Myocardial damage results in tissue remodeling that, if too extensive, may contribute to disease. Remodeling is achieved by extracellular proteolysis mediated by the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), and MMP activity is counterbalanced by tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs). We show herein that TIMP-1 expression is induced in the myocardium by CVB3 infection. Surprisingly, TIMP-1 knockout mice exhibited a profound attenuation of myocarditis, with increased survival. The amelioration of disease in TIMP-1 knockout mice was not attributable to either an altered T-cell response to the virus or to reduced viral replication. These data led us to propose a novel function for TIMP-1: its highly localized up-regulation might arrest the MMP-dependent migration of inflammatory cells at sites of infection, thereby anatomically focusing the adaptive immune response. The benefits of TIMP-1 blockade in treating viral myocarditis were confirmed by administering, to wild-type animals, TIMP-1-specific siRNA or polyclonal antisera, both of which diminished CVB3-induced myocarditis. These unexpected findings indicate that increased TIMP-1 expression exacerbates, rather than ameliorates, CVB3-induced myocarditis and, thus, that TIMP-1 may represent a target for the treatment of virus-induced heart disease.