Scar is the default tissue repair used by the body in response to most injuries–a response that occurs in wounds ranging in seriousness from minor skin cuts to complete severance of the spinal cord. By contrast, before the third trimester of pregnancy embryonic mammals tend to heal without scarring due to a variety of mechanisms and factors that are uniquely in operation during development in utero. The goal of tissue engineering is to develop safe and clinically effective biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function in patients. This review provides a comparative overview of wound healing during development and maturation and seeks to provide a perspective on just how much the embryo may be able teach us in the engineering of new therapies for tissue repair. Birth Defects Research (Part C) 96:258–270, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.