Earlier studies have shown that the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein tenascin (TN) is present between uninjured epidermal cells of urodele appendages, but is absent from most of the mesenchymally derived ECM. Following appendage amputation, this distribution is reversed. TN is lost from the epidermis and appears in the ECM of the stump and the regeneration blastema. In the present study, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to TN were used to localize this protein immunohistochemically in limbs of the adult urodele Notophthalmus viridescens at various stages following skin removal with or without damage to underlying muscle to determine 1) if the loss of TN by the epidermis and its gain by mesenchymal tissues occurs in wounds that do not require regulation by epigenetic mechanisms, and 2) if TN is present in the provisional wound matrix beneath migrating epidermal cells. In addition, skin explants were cultured on TN-coated dishes to learn if TN possesses active sites that can support epidermal cell migration. The results indicate that simple wounding leads to the same TN patterns as occurs following limb amputation. Tenascin loss from the epidermis could be seen as early as 6 hr after wounding, a time during which migrating epidermal cells are moving over the wound bed. During this period, there was no evidence of TN in the provisional wound matrix. In contrast to collagen, which supports considerable epidermal cell migration from skin explants, TN allowed no more migration than did the inactive protein, myoglobin.