The effect of timing of neurorrhaphy on neuromuscular function was studied. The extensor digitorum longus neuromuscular units of 51 rabbits were used, with repairs performed immediately, 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after nerve transection. Neuromuscular function was assessed 3 months after nerve repair, as was histology, histochemistry, and muscle hydroxyproline content. Force generated by immediately repaired units was 93% of unoperated controls. All functional delayed repairs produced approximately 50% of control force. Mild endomysial and perimysial fibrosis was present in the immediate neurorrhaphy group. Fibrosis was mild to moderate in the functional delayed repairs and moderate to severe in the nonfunctional repairs. Total and regional hydroxyproline content correlated to both function and timing of nerve repair. The data demonstrate that immediate repair of peripheral nerve lacerations gives the best functional recovery in this rabbit model. If immediate repairs are not performed in the rabbit, approximately 50% to 75% of normal function can be obtained when repairs are delayed for periods of 3 weeks to 6 months.