The murine monoclonal antibody REGA-3G12 selectively and specifically inhibits the activity of human gelatinase B. The cDNA fragments which encode the variable regions of the light and heavy chains were isolated by PCR-mediated cloning and sequenced. Single-chain Fv expression constructs for Escherichia coli were generated in which c-myc tag sequences were encoded. Inducible expression of the scFv and secretion to the periplasm were obtained with higher yields when the c-myc tag sequence was positioned at the amino-terminal side. The inhibitory activity of purified scFv on neutrophil gelatinase B was tested in a gelatin degradation assay and it was found to possess a similar specific activity as that of the intact monoclonal antibody and of the pepsin-clipped F(ab')2 derivative. This shows for the first time that inhibition of soluble enzymes with scFv is possible and opens new perspectives for the treatment of diseases with excessive and detrimental enzyme production in the host.