Smooth-muscle cell proliferation in response to arterial injury represents an important etiologic factor in restenosis after angioplasty. Tyrphostin-47, a protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor, inhibits smooth-muscle cell proliferation in vitro. In this study tyrphostin-47 was incorporated into matrixes to determine whether prolonged local delivery would result in a reduction of neointimal proliferation after arterial injury in a rat carotid balloon-injury model. A polymer matrix (polylactic polyglycolic acid copolymer and pluronic gel F-127, mean matrix weight 7.83 +/- 0.39 mg) was loaded with tyrphostin-47 (25% w/w). Release studies demonstrated delivery of 11% of the incorporated drug over a 21-day release period. In cell culture, tyrphostin-47 released from the polymer matrix produced a reduction in smooth-muscle cell proliferation (p < 0.0007). Balloon denudation injury of the left common carotid artery of 34 animals was performed. In 12 animals, polymer matrixes containing tyrphostin-47 were wrapped around the injured arteries to provide prolonged drug delivery (estimated dosage 28 micrograms/kg/24 hr); in 10 animals a polymer matrix without tyrphostin-47 was implanted; and in 12 animals only balloon injury was performed. The mean neointimal cross-sectional areas, luminal areas, and intima/media ratios were not significantly different among animals receiving local treatment with tyrphostin-47, sham polymer after injury, or balloon injury without polymer implantation. We conclude that despite inhibition of smooth-muscle cell proliferation by tyrphostin-47 in vitro, sustained local delivery of this tyrosine kinase inhibitor does not result in a reduction of neointimal proliferation in the rat carotid injury model.