Intraplantar injections of nerve growth factor (NGF; five injections of 4 micrograms each in 30 h intervals) were able to locally improve the recovery of the noradrenaline content in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned sympathetic nerves in adult rats. Whereas 8 days after the 6-OHDA treatment the noradrenaline content in the paw skin was still less than 10% of control, it reached up to 40% of control levels in NGF injected paws. Intraplantar NGF also significantly improved the recovery of the noradrenaline content in the innervating sciatic nerve, but not in distant tissues. The NGF-induced recovery of noradrenergic nerves was independent of the presence of sensory peptidergic afferents and it could not be mimicked by a local inflammatory response known to raise endogenous NGF production. These results show that rather low doses of exogenous NGF were able to locally restore peripheral noradrenergic nerves after an acute neurotoxin lesion.