Abstract Peripheral nerve regeneration was studied in female Sprague-Dawley rats with streptozotocin-induced insulin deficiency. Nerve regeneration was provoked by a crush lesion on the sciatic nerve 21 days after the streptozotocin injection. The regeneration was assessed by a pinch test at different time-points after injury. The rate ofregeneration in insulin-deficient animals, 2.5 mm/day, was significantly lower than in control animals, 2.9 mm/day(P < 0.05). There was no difference in the initial delay, i.e. the period before regeneration attains a constant velocity. One group of insulin-deficient rats was treated with insulin during the regeneration period by means of implanted osmotic mini-pumps. This treatment prevented the decrease in regenerationsw. After 6 days the sciatic nerves of insulin-deficient rats had regenerated 12.3 ±0.3mm(mean±S.E.M.), while the corresponding value for insulin-treated rats was 15.7 ±0.6 mm (P > 0.01). The streptozotocin-treated rats were found to have a 39% reduction in the serum level of insulin-like 1 growth factor-I (IGF-I)_compared to control rats (0.33 ± 0.22 μg/ml and 0.54 ± ml respectively, (P < 0.001). Insulin treatment 1830 1732 during the regeneration period completely restored the IGF-I level back to normal.