Wound healing is a complex, long-lasting regulatory sequence that involves expression of a number of genes, which are active during the individual's development. Some of the phenomena differ from normal tissue turnover and growth only quantitatively. This article reviews the current data on corneal wound healing, with particular reference to mesenchymal matrix proteins and their integrin receptors, to growth factors and to proteolytic enzymes. Some inflammatory mediators are also discussed. The theoretical basis for therapeutic interventions is also discussed briefly, in the light of present knowledge.