Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) participates in mobilizing bone marrow-derived stem cells, via its receptor CXCR4. We studied the role of the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in a rodent model of bleomycin-induced lung injury in C57BL/6 wild-type and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 knockout mice. After intratracheal instillation of bleomycin, SDF-1 levels in serum and bronchial alveolar lavage fluid increased. These changes were accompanied by increased numbers of CXCR4(+) cells in the lung and a decrease in a population of CXCR4(+) cells in the bone marrow that did not occur in MMP-9(-)/(-) mice. Both SDF-1 and lung lysates from bleomycin-treated mice induced migration of bone marrow-derived stem cells in vitro that was blocked by a CXCR4 antagonist, TN14003. Treatment of mice with TN14003 with bleomycin-induced lung injury significantly attenuated lung fibrosis. Lung tissue from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis had higher numbers of cells expressing both SDF-1 and CXCR4 than did normal lungs. Our data suggest that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is important in the complex sequence of events triggered by bleomycin exposure that eventuates in lung repair. SDF-1 participates in mobilizing bone marrow-derived stem cells, via its receptor CXCR4.