Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), 1 to 500 ng in saline (PBS) or collagen, was applied to the wounds of normal and Adriamycin-impaired mice and wound disruption strength (WDS) and histology were examined. Also wounded mice were administered TNF 25 to 75 micrograms/kg IP daily and WDS was determined. Wound histology was examined 6 months after wounding and local TNF application. Local TNF 5 to 500 ng in PBS did not significantly affect WDS. Local TNF 5 to 50 ng in collagen increased WDS 33% to 65% in Adriamycin-impaired animals (p = 0.05 to p less than 0.02). Local TNF 50 to 500 ng in collagen increased WDS 23% to 49% in normal animals (p = 0.08 to p less than 0.01). Adriamycin-impaired animals demonstrated improved wound histology with local TNF in collagen. Systemic TNF did not significantly affect WDS. Local TNF in collagen did not induce histologic pathology at 6 months. TNF may modulate macrophage function and local TNF in collagen can improve WDS in normal and Adriamycin-impaired animals.