Endogenous electric currents generated instantly at skin wounds direct migration of epithelial cells and are likely to be important in wound healing. Migration of fibroblasts is critical in wound healing. It remains unclear how wound electric fields guide migration of dermal fibroblasts. We report here that mouse skin wounds generated endogenous electric currents for many hours. Human dermal fibroblasts of both primary and cell-line cultures migrated directionally but slowly toward the anode in an electric field of 50-100 mV mm(-1). This is different from keratinocytes, which migrate quickly to the cathode. It took more than 1 hour for dermal fibroblasts to manifest detectable directional migration. Larger field strength (400 mV mm(-1)) was required to induce directional migration within 1 hour after onset of the field. Phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3 kinase) mediates cathode-directed migration of keratinocytes. We tested the role of PI3 kinase in anode-directed migration of fibroblasts. An applied electric field activated PI3 kinase/Akt in dermal fibroblasts. Dermal fibroblasts from p110gamma (a PI3 kinase catalytic subunit) null mice showed significantly decreased directional migration. These results suggest that physiological electric fields may regulate motility of dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes differently, albeit using similar PI3 kinase-dependent mechanisms.