The effects of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) on muscle atrophy and the reinnervation of muscle were investigated. The rat medial gastrocnemius (MG) nerve was either cut (denervation groups), crushed (reinnervation group) or left intact (normal group). Muscles were injected with LIF in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) containing pluronic gel, the contralateral control muscles were injected with the vehicle alone. The muscles from the LIF-injected denervation groups were analysed for muscle fibre area; this was found to be significantly larger than controls. The greatest change was observed in the reinnervation group, where the muscle fibre area following LIF treatment was 53% (Type 1) and 84% (Type 2) greater. In addition, nerve fibre diameters were analysed in the reinnervation-treated group and these were also significantly larger. However, LIF injected into normally innervated muscle resulted in a decrease in muscle fibre area. These results show that LIF ameliorates denervation-induced muscle atrophy and improves regeneration of muscle and nerve.