Adhesion formation and fibrosis represent a major complication of surgical intervention. Reducing the morbidity associated with adhesions requires an understanding of the mechanisms underlying their formation. Since increased levels of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGFbeta1) have been associated with inflammation and adhesion production, we investigated the requirement of TGFbeta1 in peritoneal adhesion formation utilizing mice carrying a targeted disruption of the TGFbeta1 allele. Mice that were either wild-type (+/+), containing two normal alleles of TGFbeta1, or heterozygous (+/-) for the TGFbeta1 null allele received injections of magnesium silicate (talc), and the extent of abdominal adhesions was determined utilizing a standard grading score. Wild-type (+/+) animals had at least twofold more TGFbeta1 protein in peritoneal fluids at 2 h posttrauma compared to heterozygous (+/-) mice (727 vs. 243 pg TGFbeta1/mg protein by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in +/+ and +/- mice, respectively), and had significantly less scar and adhesion formation (p < .05) at 7 days posttrauma (1.8 +/- 0.8 vs. 3.4 +/- 1.4, graded from 0 to 5, in +/+ and +/- mice, respectively). These results demonstrate that haploid insufficiency in TGFbeta1 levels can lead to inappropriate matrix and adhesion production during inflammation, and together with previous studies suggest that any perturbation of normal TGFbeta1 levels can modulate the injury response that regulates the extent of adhesion formation.