We conducted a double-masked study to evaluate the effect of epidermal growth factor on epithelial wound healing and recurrent erosions in alkali-burned rabbit corneas. Epithelial wounds 10 mm in diameter healed completely under the influence of topical epidermal growth factor, whereas the control corneas did not resurface in the center. On reversal of treatment, the previously nonhealing epithelial defects healed when treated with topical epidermal growth factor eyedrops. Conversely, the epidermal growth factor-treated and resurfaced corneas developed epithelial defects when treatment was discontinued. Histopathologic examination disclosed hyperplastic epithelium growing over the damaged stroma laden with polymorphonuclear leukocytes when treated with epidermal growth factor eyedrops, but it did not adhere to the underlying tissue. Hydropic changes were seen intracellularly as well as between the epithelial cells and the stroma.