As part of a major clinical trial, sequential biopsies were taken from the margins of venous leg ulcers during their healing. The changing patterns of tissue architecture and extracellular matrix synthesis during healing were documented histologically and immunocytochemically. Initial biopsies were similar in appearance: prominent fibrin cuffs, variable inflammation, hemosiderin, and red blood cell extravasation. So called "fibrin cuffs" were highly organized structures composed of laminin, fibronectin, tenascin, and collagen as well as trapped leukocytes and fibrin. Fibronectin was absent from the ulcer tissue although collagen was abundant. Major histologic changes were observed after 2 weeks' pressure bandage therapy; hemosiderin, acute inflammation, and granulation tissue with the deposition of fibronectin had all increased and epithelial migration had commenced. Complete epithelialization was frequent by the fourth week of treatment, but the basement membrane was incomplete. At this time, hemosiderin and red blood cell extravasation had decreased and "fibrin cuffs" were virtually absent although chronic inflammation remained. The complex organization of the so-called "fibrin cuffs" may inhibit angiogenesis (but offer protection against increased venous pressure) in addition to their previously ascribed role in causing tissue ischemia.