After the sciatic nerve had been crushed at the level of the mid-thigh, the rate of outgrowth of the regenerating axons was measured by using the pinch test to locate the leading sensory axons. This standard crush lesion ("testing" lesion) elicited axonal outgrowth at a rate of 4.3 +/- 0.1 mm/day, with an initial delay (before the axons entered the degenerating distal stump) of 1.6 days. A "conditioning" lesion (transection of the tibial nerve at the ankle), made two weeks before the testing lesion, caused an increase of 23% in the outgrowth rat (P less than 0.02), with no appreciable change in the initial delay. Dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP) was found to have no effect on the rate of axonal outgrowth measured by the pinch test. Histological examination of the pinch-tested nerves showed that the drug also had no effect on the numbers of regenerating silver-stained axons or fluorescent noradrenergic axons seen at various levels distal to the testing lesion.