Vibrio cholerae of serogroup O1 and O139, the etiological agent of the diarrheal disease cholera, expresses the extracellular Zn-dependent metalloprotease hemagglutinin (HA)/protease also reported as vibriolysin. This enzyme is also produced by non-O1/O139 (non-cholera) strains that cause mild, sporadic illness (i.e. gastroenteritis, wound or ear infections). Orthologs of HA/protease are present in other members of the Vibrionaceae family pathogenic to humans and fish. HA/protease belongs to the M4 neutral peptidase family and displays significant amino acid sequence homology to Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase (LasB) and Bacillus thermoproteolyticus thermolysin. It exhibits a broad range of potentially pathogenic activities in cell culture and animal models. These activities range from the covalent modification of other toxins, the degradation of the protective mucus barrier and disruption of intestinal tight junctions. Here we review (i) the structure and regulation of HA/protease expression, (ii) its interaction with other toxins and the intestinal mucosa and (iii) discuss the possible role(s) of HA/protease in the pathogenesis of cholera.