The impact of the local inflammatory response on the process of wound healing has been debated for decades. In particular, the question whether infiltrating macrophages and granulocytes promote or impede tissue repair has received much attention. In the present study, we show that wound healing is accelerated in mice deficient for the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10. IL-10-/- mice closed excisional wounds significantly earlier compared with IL-10-competent control littermates. This effect was attributable to accelerated epithelialization as well as enhanced contraction of the wound tissue in the mutant animals. Increased alpha-smooth muscle actin expression in IL-10-deficient mice suggests that augmented myofibroblast differentiation is responsible for the enhanced contraction of wounds in mutant mice. The number of macrophages infiltrating the wound tissue was significantly increased in IL-10-/- mice compared with control littermates suggesting that this cell type mediates the accelerated tissue repair. These results show for the first time that IL-10 can impede wound repair.