Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) are known to promote the healing of epithelial wounds. Eosinophils are present in healing wounds and have recently been shown to be capable of producing TGF-alpha. This investigation was done to determine if eosinophils infiltrated into healing wounds are capable of expressing this cytokine. Using the rabbit cutaneous open wound model, the study found that the eosinophil is one of the predominant cell types in the healing wound, beginning from the seventh day and thereafter. Most surprisingly, the majority of the eosinophils present in the healing wound were found to contain TGF-alpha mRNA and protein by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Thus it is proposed that the delivery of TGF-alpha by eosinophils to epithelial wound healing sites represents a normal body mechanism whereby this multifunctional cytokine can accelerate the wound healing process.