The extracellular compartments of most biological tissues are significantly less well protected against oxidative damage than intracellular sites and there is considerable evidence for such compartments being subject to a greater oxidative stress and an altered redox balance. However, with some notable exceptions (e.g., plasma and lung lining fluid) oxidative damage within these compartments has been relatively neglected and is poorly understood. In particular information on the nature and consequences of damage to extracellular matrix is lacking despite the growing realization that changes in matrix structure can play a key role in the regulation of cellular adhesion, proliferation, migration, and cell signaling. Furthermore, the extracellular matrix is widely recognized as being a key site of cytokine and growth factor binding, and modification of matrix structure might be expected to alter such behavior. In this paper we review the potential sources of oxidative matrix damage, the changes that occur in matrix structure, and how this may affect cellular behavior. The role of such damage in the development and progression of inflammatory diseases is discussed.