Axolotls (urodele amphibians) have the unique ability, among vertebrates, to perfectly regenerate many parts of their body including limbs, tail, jaw and spinal cord following injury or amputation. The axolotl limb is the most widely used structure as an experimental model to study tissue regeneration. The process is well characterized, requiring multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms. The preparation phase represents the first part of the regeneration process which includes wound healing, cellular migration, dedifferentiation and proliferation. The redevelopment phase represents the second part when dedifferentiated cells stop proliferating and redifferentiate to give rise to all missing structures. In the axolotl, when a limb is amputated, the missing or wounded part is regenerated perfectly without scar formation between the stump and the regenerated structure. Multiple authors have recently highlighted the similarities between the early phases of mammalian wound healing and urodele limb regeneration. In mammals, one very important family of growth factors implicated in the control of almost all aspects of wound healing is the transforming growth factor-beta family (TGF-beta). In the present study, the full length sequence of the axolotl TGF-beta1 cDNA was isolated. The spatio-temporal expression pattern of TGF-beta1 in regenerating limbs shows that this gene is up-regulated during the preparation phase of regeneration. Our results also demonstrate the presence of multiple components of the TGF-beta signaling machinery in axolotl cells. By using a specific pharmacological inhibitor of TGF-beta type I receptor, SB-431542, we show that TGF-beta signaling is required for axolotl limb regeneration. Treatment of regenerating limbs with SB-431542 reveals that cellular proliferation during limb regeneration as well as the expression of genes directly dependent on TGF-beta signaling are down-regulated. These data directly implicate TGF-beta signaling in the initiation and control of the regeneration process in axolotls.