This study attempted to enhance the efficacy of peripheral nerve regeneration using our previously tested poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) conduits by incorporating them with allogeneic Schwann cells (SCs). The SCs were harvested, cultured to obtain confluent monolayers and two concentrations (1 x 10(4) and 1 x 10(6) SC/ml) were combined with a collagen matrix (Vitrogen) and injected into the PLLA conduits. The conduits were then implanted into a 12 mm right sciatic nerve defect in rats. Three control groups were used: isografts, PLLA conduits filled with collagen alone and empty silicone tubes. The sciatic functional index (SFI) was calculated monthly through four months. At the end of second and fourth months, the gastrocnemius muscle was harvested and weighed for comparison and the graft conduit and distal nerve were harvested for histomorphologic analysis. The mean SFI demonstrated no group differences from isograft control. By four months, there was no significant difference in gastrocnemius muscle weight between the experimental groups compared to isograft controls. At four months, the distal nerve demonstrated a statistically lower number of axons mm2 for the high and low SC density groups and collagen control. The nerve fiber density was significantly lower in all of the groups compared to isograft controls by four months. The development of a "bioactive" nerve conduit using tissue engineering to replace autogenous nerve grafts offers a potential approach to improved patient care. Although equivalent nerve regeneration to autografts was not achieved, this study provides promising results for further investigation.