Tenascin-C (TNC), an extracellular matrix glycoprotein, is involved in tissue morphogenesis like embryogenesis, wound healing or tumorigenesis. Astrocytes are known to play major roles in wound healing in the CNS. To elucidate the roles of TNC in wound closure by astrocytes, we have examined the morphological changes of cultured astrocytes in a scratch wound assay and measured the content of soluble TNC released into the medium. We have also localized the expression of TNC mRNA, TNC, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), vimentin and integrin beta1. After wounding, glial cells rapidly released the largest TNC isoform and proliferated in the border zones. Subsequently, they became polarized with unidirectional processes and finally migrated toward the denuded area. The proliferating border zone cells and pre-migratory cells intensely expressed TNC mRNA, TNC-, vimentin-, GFAP- and integrin beta1-like immunoreactivity, while the migratory cells showed generally reduced expression except the front. Exogenous TNC enhanced cell proliferation and migration, while functional blocking with anti-TNC or anti-integrin beta1 antibody reduced both of them. These results suggest that mechanical injury induces boundary astrocytes to produce and release TNC that promotes cell proliferation and migration via integrin beta1 in an autocrine/paracrine fashion.