Peripheral nerve regeneration comprises the formation of axonal sprouts, their outgrowth as regenerating axons and the reinnervation of original targets. This review focuses on the morphological features of axonal sprouts at the node of Ranvier and their subsequent outgrowth guided by Schwann cells or by Schwann cell basal laminae. Adhesion molecules such as N-CAM, L1 and N-cadherin are involved in the axon-to-axon and axon-to-Schwann cell attachment, and it is suggested that integrins such as alpha 1 beta 1 and alpha 6 beta 1 mediate the attachment between axons and Schwann cell basal laminae. The presence of synaptic vesicle-associated proteins such as synaptophysin, synaptotagmin and synapsin I in the growth cones of regenerating axons indicates the possibility that exocytotic fusion of vesicles with the surface axolemma supplies the membranous components for the extension of regenerating axons. Almost all the subtypes of protein kinase C have been localized in growth cones both in vivo and in vitro. Protein kinase C and GAP-43 are implicated to be involved in at least some part of the adhesion of growth cones to the substrate and their growth activity. The significance of tyrosine kinase in growth cones is emphasized. Tyrosine kinase plays an important role in intracellular signal transduction of the growth of regenerating axons mediated by both nerve trophic factors and adhesion molecules. Growth factors such as NGF, BDNF, CNTF and bFGF are also discussed mainly in terms of the influence of Schwann cells on regenerating axons.