The effect of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) was tested on regeneration of the rat sciatic nerve after a crush lesion. IGF-I was administered via miniosmotic pumps to the dorsal root ganglia or locally around the crush lesion. Regeneration of sensory fibers was measured after 3 or 4 days superfusion by pinching. IGF-I stimulated regeneration in both administration paradigms. Regeneration was inhibited if the nerve was perfused with specific antibodies to native IGF-I. The results suggest that endogenous extracellular IGF-I plays an important role during regeneration of peripheral nerve fibers.