Rapid repair of mucous epithelia is essential for preventing inflammation which is a critical component of cancer progression. 'Restitution' is an early repair process which can begin within minutes and is achieved via the migration of neighbouring cells into the wounded area. Mucosal restitution is a multistep process which requires continuous blood flow and includes at least (i) the reduction of cell-cell contacts and a shift in the cell shape towards a migratory phenotype (characteristics of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition), (ii) migration of cells, (iii) repolarization and formation of tight junctions (morphological restitution) and (iv) restoration of barrier function (transmucosal epithelial resistance, functional restitution). Secretory TFF (trefoil factor family) peptides TFF1, TFF2 and TFF3 are well known for their potent protective and healing effects after mucosal damage (function as 'luminal surveillance peptides'). Here, the contributions of the TFFs during the different steps of mucosal restitution are discussed, i. e. the modulation of cell-cell contacts, their motogenic activity and synergy with epidermal growth factor, their anti-apoptotic and pro-angiogenic effects. Special emphasis has been given to discussion of the various signal transduction networks triggered by TFFs. It is becoming increasingly clear that these pathways differ depending on the respective TFF.