Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by decreased air flow and is associated with abnormal chronic inflammation in the airways and extensive tissue remodeling. Matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP7) is produced primarily by the epithelium of many organs, including the lungs. A functional MMP7 –181A>G (rs11568818) promoter polymorphism influences the binding of nuclear regulatory proteins modulating the transcription of the gene. In this study, we genotyped 191 patients with COPD for MMP7 –181A>G single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and 215 control subjects using the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method and explored the role of that polymorphism as a risk factor for COPD. There were no differences in the genotype and allele distribution of the MMP7 –181A>G SNP between the COPD patients and control groups (p = 0.341 and p = 0.214). However, the carries of the G allele (AG and GG genotypes), appeared to develop COPD significantly earlier than those with the AA genotype (61.01 ± 10.11 vs. 64.87 ± 9.00 years, p = 0.032). When the genotype distribution was studied only in the groups of patients (n = 76) and controls (n = 106) younger than 60 years, we found significantly higher frequency of the carriers of the G allele in COPD patients than in the controls, determining about a 3-fold higher risk for COPD [odds ratio (OR) –3.33, 1.36-8.14, p = 0.008 for GG, and OR = 2.91, 1.38-6.13, p = 0.005 for AG+GG]. Based on our results, the MMP7 –181A>G promoter variant may influence early development of COPD. This effect could be attributed to the increased production of the enzyme resulting in enhanced airway wall protein degradation and injury.