A clear understanding of the cellular events underlying successful remyelination of demyelinating lesions is a necessary prerequisite for an understanding of the failure of remyelination in multiple sclerosis (MS). The potential for remyelination of the adult central nervous system (CNS) has been well-established. However, there is still some dispute whether remyelinating oligodendrocytes arise from dedifferentiation and/or proliferation of mature oligodendrocytes, or are generated solely from proliferation and differentiation of glial progenitor cells. This review focuses on studies carried out on remyelinating lesions in the adult rat spinal cord produced by injection of antibodies to galactocerebroside and serum complement that show: (1) oligodendrocytes which survive within an area of demyelination do not contribute to remyelination, (2) remyelination is carried out by oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, (3) recruitment of oligodendrocyte progenitors to an area of demyelination is a local response, and (4) division of oligodendrocyte progenitors is symmetrical, resulting in chronic depletion of the oligodendrocyte progenitor population in the normal white matter around an area of remyelination. Such results suggest that repeated episodes of demyelination could lead to a failure of remyelination due to a depletion of oligodendrocyte progenitors.