Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. A protease-antiprotease imbalance has been suggested as a possible pathogenic mechanism for COPD. Here, we examined the relationship between circulating serpina3g, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 and -2 (TIMP-1 and -2, respectively) and severity of COPD. We included 150 stable COPD patients and 35 control subjects in the study. The COPD patients were classified into four groups (I, II, III, and IV), according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines based on the severity of symptoms and the exacerbation risk. Plasma serpina3g, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 and -2 concentrations were significantly higher in the all patients than in control subjects. Plasma serpina3g, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 and -2 concentrations were significantly higher in groups III and IV than in groups I and II. A negative correlation between serpina3g, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 and -2 levels and the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) was observed. MMP-9 concentration and the MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio were higher in patients with emphysema than in other phenotypes (both with p < 0.01). The findings of this study suggest that circulating serpina3g, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 and -2 levels may play an important role in airway remodeling in COPD pathogenesis. Disrupted protease-antiprotease imbalance in patients with COPD is related to the presence of airway injury. MMP-9 concentration and the MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio are the best predictors of emphysema in COPD patients.