Current research into regeneration of the nervous system has focused on defining the molecular events that occur during regeneration. One well-characterized system for studying nerve regeneration is the sciatic nerve of rat. Numerous studies have characterized the sequence of events that occur after a crush injury to the sciatic nerve (Cajal 1928; Hall 1989). These events include axon and myelin breakdown, changes in the permeability of the blood vessels, proliferation of Schwann cells, invasion of macrophages, and the phagocytosis of myelin fragments by Schwann cells and macrophages. The distal segment of the injured sciatic nerve provides a supportive environment for the regeneration of the nerve fibres (Cajal 1928; David & Aguayo 1981). Within a period of weeks, the injured sciatic nerve is able to regrow and successfully reinnervate the appropriate targets. Some of the molecules that provide trophic support for the regrowing nerve fibres have been identified, including nerve growth factor (NGF) (Heumann et al. 1987) and glial maturation factor beta (Bosch et al. 1989). Another class of molecules show changes in their rates of synthesis during regeneration, including both proteins (Skene & Shooter 1983; Muller et al. 1986) and mRNA species (Trapp et al. 1988; Meier et al. 1989). To better understand nerve regeneration, we have taken two, parallel molecular approaches to study the events associated with regeneration. The first of these is to study in detail the mechanism of action of a molecule that has been implicated in the regeneration process, nerve growth factor. The second approach is to identify novel gene sequences which are regulated during regeneration. Once the genes are isolated, it will be possible to test for functional roles of the encoded proteins during regeneration. Results from the two approaches are presented in this paper.