The role of proteases in viral infection of the lung is poorly understood. Thus, we examined matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cathepsin proteases in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-infected mouse lungs. RSV-induced gene expression for MMPs -2, -3, -7, -8, -9, -10, -12, -13, -14, -16, -17, -19, -20, -25, -27, and -28 and cathepsins B, C, E, G, H, K, L1, S, W, and Z in the airways of Friend leukemia virus B sensitive strain mice. Increased proteases were present in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung tissue during infection. Mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS) and TIR-domain-containing adapter-inducing interferon-β-deficient mice were exposed to RSV. Mavs-deficient mice had significantly lower expression of airway MMP-2, -3, -7, -8, -9, -10, -12, -13, and -28 and cathepsins C, G, K, S, W, and Z. In lung epithelial cells, retinoic acid-inducible gene-1 (RIG-I) was identified as the major RIG-I-like receptor required for RSV-induced protease expression via MAVS. Overexpression of RIG-I or treatment with interferon-β in these cells induced MMP and cathepsin gene and protein expression. The significance of RIG-1 protease induction was demonstrated by the fact that inhibiting proteases with batimastat, E64 or ribavirin prevented airway hyperresponsiveness and enhanced viral clearance in RSV-infected mice.