Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) have been previously implicated in urodele limb regeneration. Here, we examined expression of FGF-1 by blastema cells and neurons and investigated its involvement in wound epithelial formation and function and in the trophic effect of nerves. Neurons innervating the limb and blastema cells in vivo and in vitro expressed the FGF-1 gene. The peptide was present in blastemas in vivo. Wound epithelium thickened when recombinant newt FGF-1 was provided on heparin-coated beads, demonstrating that the FGF-1 was biologically active and that the wound epithelium is a possible target tissue of FGF. FGF-1 did not stimulate accessory limb formation. FGF-1 was as effective as 10% fetal bovine serum in maintaining proliferative activity of blastema cells in vitro but was unable to maintain growth of denervated, nerve-dependent stage blastemas when provided on beads or by injection. FGF-1 had a strong stimulating effect on blastema cell accumulation and proliferation of limbs inserted into the body cavity that were devoid of an apical epithelial cap (AEC). These results show that FGF-1 can signal wound epithelium cap formation and/or function and can stimulate mesenchyme accumulation/proliferation in the absence of the AEC but that FGF-1 is not directly involved in the neural effect on blastema growth. J. Exp. Zool. 292:540–554, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.