Trefoil peptides are gut peptides that have been implicated in the repair of the gastric mucosa after injury. Previous studies suggest that epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor ligands may induce the expression of trefoil peptides. Because transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) is a major EGF receptor ligand in the gut, we tested the hypothesis that mice with a TGF-alpha null mutation (knockout) would have reduced trefoil peptide expression compared with wild-type controls after gastric ulceration. The rate of macroscopic ulcer healing was the same in knockout and wild-type mice. Spasmolytic polypeptide (SP) and intestinal trefoil factor (ITF) expression were quantified in tissue and gastric lavage. SP and ITF levels in tissue fell within 48 h of ulceration (P < 0.05), but secretion into gastric juice was unchanged. ITF peptide expression was increased (as was SP expression) in wild-type but not knockout mice 42 and 72 days after injury (P < 0.05). The induction of SP and ITF expression in the latter stages of injury repair has a TGF-alpha-dependent component and suggests a role for these peptides in gastric differentiation and cell positioning.