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Elastases are proteinases capable of solubilizing fibrous elastin. Elastases may belong to the class of serine proteinases, cysteine proteinases and metalloproteinases. Mammalian elastases occur mainly in the pancreas and the phagocytes. Among non-mammalian elastases there is a great variety of bacterial metallo and serine elastases. The elastolytic activity varies from one elastase to another and is usually not correlated with the catalytic efficiency of these proteinases. One may measure this activity using native or labelled elastins. With pure elastases one may use synthetic substrates. There is a large number of natural (proteins) and synthetic elastase inhibitors. Elastases play a pathologic role in pulmonary emphysema, cystic fibrosis, infections, inflammation and atherosclerosis.