In this review we describe the growth of regenerating fibres through lesions in immature mammalian spinal cord. In newborn opossums and foetal rats, repair occurs rapidly and reliably without antibodies, implants or bridges of undamaged spinal cord. In the neonatal opossum one can compare recovery from lesions made to the CNS at various stages of development in the animal and in culture. As the CNS matures, the capacity for regeneration ceases abruptly. In particular, the extracellular matrix and molecules associated with glia have been shown to play a role in promoting and inhibiting regeneration. Major problems concern the precision with which regenerating axons become reconnected to their targets, and the specificity needed for recovery of function.