We examined immunohistochemically the fracture repair process in rat tibial bone using antibodies to PCNA, BMP2, TGF-beta 1,-2,-3, TGF-beta R1,-R2, bFGF, bFGFR, PDGF, VEGF, and S-100. The peak level of cell proliferation as revealed by PCNA labelling appeared first in primitive mesenchymal cells and inflammatory cells at the fracture edges and neighboring periosteum at 2-days after fracture, followed by the peaks of periosteal primitive fibroblasts and chondroblasts, which appeared at fracture edges at 3- and 4-days after fracture, respectively. BMP2 was weakly positive in primitive mesenchymal cells, osteoblasts and chondroblasts. At 3-days post-fracture, periosteal osteoblasts produced osteoid tissue and callus with marrow spaces lined by osteoblasts and osteoclasts, and all primitive mesenchymal cells and osteoblasts were positive for TGF-beta 1,-2,-3, and TGF-beta R1,-R2. They were also positive for vascular growth factors bFGF, FGFR and PDGF, but negative for VEGF, and the peak of PCNA labelling of vascular endothelial cells in the marrow space was delayed to 4-days after fracture. Chondroblasts at fracture edges produced hypertrophic chondrocytes at 5-days after fracture and they were positive for TGF-beta 1,-2,-3, and TGF-beta R1,-R2. Primitive chondroblasts were positive for vascular growth factors VEGF as well as bFGF, FGFR, and the peak of PCNA labelling of vascular endothelial cells in the cartilage was at 5-days after fracture. Hypertrophic chondrocytes were also positive for these growth factors but negative for bFGF and bFGFR. S-100 protein-induced calcification was only positive on chondroblasts and hypertrophic chondrocytes. At 7-days after fracture, bone began to be formed from the cartilage at fracture edges, by a process similar to bone formation in the growth plate. Enchondral ossification established a bridge between both fracture edges and periosteal membranous ossification encompassed the fracture site like a sheath at 14 day after fracture. Our study of fracture repair of bone indicates that this process is complex and occurs through various steps involving various growth factors.