The extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounds cells in the brain, providing structural and functional support. Emerging studies demonstrate that the ECM plays important roles during development, in the healthy adult brain, and in brain diseases. The aim of this review is to briefly discuss the physiological roles of the ECM and its contribution to the pathogenesis of brain disease, highlighting the gene expression changes, transcriptional factors involved, and a role for microglia in ECM regulation. Much of the research conducted thus far on disease states has focused on “omic” approaches that reveal differences in gene expression related to the ECM. Here, we review recent findings on alterations in the expression of ECM-associated genes in seizure, neuropathic pain, cerebellar ataxia, and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Next, we discuss evidence implicating the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) in regulating the expression of ECM genes. HIF-1 is induced in response to hypoxia, and also targets genes involved in ECM remodeling, suggesting that hypoxia could contribute to ECM remodeling in disease conditions. We conclude by discussing the role microglia play in the regulation of the perineuronal nets (PNNs), a specialized form of ECM in the central nervous system. We show evidence that microglia can modulate PNNs in healthy and diseased brain states. Altogether, these findings suggest that ECM regulation is altered in brain disease, and highlight the role of HIF-1 and microglia in ECM remodeling.