We discuss the relation between the compressibility of nuclear matter and the frequencies of the collective monopole vibrations of nuclei. We analyse some of the problems which arise when one extrapolates from properties of finite nuclei to those of infinite nuclear matter. The best way to perform this extrapolation is to use a theory capable of describing both systems on the same footing. Self-consistent calculations using phenomenological effective interactions realize such a program. The general properties of these effective interactions are discussed. The theory we used is described; we emphasize that it accounts for both the properties of the ground states of nuclei and the small amplitude collective vibrations. Simple models of compression modes in infinite nuclear matter and in nuclei are presented; they illustrate various features of the collective modes in both systems. In particular we discuss the role of the shell structure and the effects of the nuclear surface. Results of extensive self-consistent calculations of the breathing mode of nuclei are presented and many features of the mode are analyzed. The role of the single particle spectrum on the frequencies of the collective modes is studied. Finally we briefly review the experimental situation on the monopole excitations of nuclei. We show that experimental data are compatible with a well defined value of the compression modulus of nuclear matter: K∞ = 210±30 MeV.