Fracture healing and distraction osteogenesis have important applications in orthopedic, maxillofacial, and periodontal treatment. In this review, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate fracture repair are contrasted with bone regeneration that occurs during distraction osteogenesis. While both processes have many common features, unique differences are observed in the temporal appearance and expression of specific molecular factors that regulate each. The relative importance of inflammatory cytokines in normal and diabetic healing, the transforming growth factor beta superfamily of bone morphogenetic mediators, and the process of angiogenesis are discussed as they relate to bone repair. A complete summary of biological activities and functions of various bioactive factors may be found at COPE (Cytokines & Cells Online Pathfinder Encyclopedia), http://www.copewithcytokines.de/cope.cgi.