Human platelet-derived growth factor (hPDGF) is likely to be important in stimulating tissue repair, based upon its in vivo chemotactic and stimulatory activities for inflammatory cells and fibroblasts and upon the presence of PDGF and related proteins in platelets, macrophages, and activated fibroblasts, cell types that make up the milieu of the healing wound. Recombinant human c-sis (rPDGF-B), homodimers of the B chain of PDGF, were compared with hPDGF in vitro. rPDGF-B was immunologically similar to hPDGF and, at identical concentrations, similar to hPDGF in stimulating fibroblast mitogenesis and chemotaxis of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, monocytes, and fibroblasts. Purified hPDGF and rPDGF-B were also tested in vivo for potency in a model of tissue repair using a linear incision wound through rat dermis. A single application of hPDGF or rPDGF-B (2-20 micrograms/wound) in a slow release vehicle at the time of wounding resulted in a dose-dependent, statistically highly significant increase of breaking strength of treated wounds. Wound healing in animals treated with rPDGF-B was 170% stronger and accelerated by 2 d during the first week over control wounds and by 4-6 d over the next 2 wk. Histologic evaluation of growth factor-treated wounds correlated the in vitro chemotactic activity and the accelerated healing of wounds with a striking inflammatory cell infiltrate early after wounding, markedly increased formation of granulation tissue by 4-d, and increased fibrosis by 14 d in comparison to control wounds. The results thus demonstrate that rPDGF-B is fully active in in vitro tests of mitogenesis and chemotaxis and, for the first time, demonstrate directly that PDGF significantly advances wound healing in incisional wounds of experimental animals.