Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) belongs to a family of zinc-dependent endopeptidases and is associated with vital inflammatory processes. Here, we isolated and characterized MMP-9 cDNA from grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) (designated as CiMMP-9). The cDNA was 2880 bp long and encoded a putative protein of 675 amino acids, with a predicted molecular mass of 75.816 kDa and an isoelectric point (pI) of 5.25. CiMMP-9 contained all three classical MMP-9 family signatures. The mRNA of CiMMP-9 was constitutively expressed in all tested tissues of untreated grass carp, with the highest expression levels in the blood, trunk kidney, head kidney and spleen. CiMMP9 transcript was present in unfertilized eggs, which suggests that CiMMP9 transcription is maternally inherited. Fluorescent real-time quantitative RT-PCR was used to examine the expression of the CiMMP-9 gene in C. idella after being challenged with Aeromonas hydrophila. A clear time-dependent expression pattern of CiMMP-9 was found after the bacterial challenge, and mRNA expression reached a maximum level at 7 days post challenge. This indicates that MMP-9 is inducible and is involved in immune responses, thus suggesting that CiMMP-9 plays an important role in A. hydrophila-related diseases and in early embryonic development stages in C. idella.