Background Major adverse cardiovascular events are the main cause of morbidity and mortality over the long term in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. There are few reports assessing the prognostic value of markers of inflammation in relation to the risk of cardiovascular disease after carotid endarterectomy. Here, we aimed to determine whether matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-7, MMP-9 and MMP-10), tissue inhibitor of MMPs (TIMP-1) and in vivo inflammation studied by F-18-FDG-PET/CT predict recurrent cardiovascular events in patients with carotid stenosis who underwent endarterectomy. Methods This prospective cohort study was carried out on 31 consecutive patients with symptomatic (23/31) or asymptomatic (8/31) severe (> 70%) carotid stenosis who were scheduled for carotid endarterectomy between July 2013 and March 2016. In addition, 26 healthy controls were included in the study. Plasma and serum samples were collected 2 days prior to surgery and tested for MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-7, MMP-9, MMP-10, TIMP-1, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. F-18-FDG-PET/CT focusing on several territories' vascular wall metabolism was performed on 29 of the patients because of no presurgical availability in 2 symptomatic patients. Histological and immunohistochemical studies were performed with antibodies targeting MMP-10, MMP-9, TIMP-1 and CD68. Results The patients with carotid stenosis had significantly more circulating MMP-1, MMP-7 and MMP-10 than the healthy controls. Intraplaque TIMP-1 was correlated with its plasma level (r = 0.42 P = .02) and with F-18-FDG uptake (r = 0.38 P = .05). We did not find any correlation between circulating MMPs and in vivo carotid plaque metabolism assessed by F-18-FDG-PET. After a median follow-up of 1077 days, 4 cerebrovascular, 7 cardiovascular and 11 peripheral vascular events requiring hospitalization were registered. Circulating MMP-7 was capable of predicting events over and above the traditional risk factors (HR = 1.15 P = .006). When the model was associated with the variables of interest, the risk predicted by F-18-FDG-PET was not significant. Conclusions Circulating MMP-7 may represent a novel marker for recurrent cardiovascular events in patients with moderate to severe carotid stenosis. MMP-7 may reflect the atherosclerotic burden but not plaque inflammation in this specific vascular territory.