The self-healing group key distribution scheme with revocation can deal with the problem of distributing session keys for secure group communication over an unreliable wireless network, with the capability to resist packet loss and collusion attack. However, existing access-polynomial-based self-healing key management schemes have some problems, such as the small number of active group members, much redundancy in the key updating broadcast packet, and limited collusion attack resistance capability. In order to increase the number of active group members and improve the performance of self-healing group key distribution schemes, we propose a self-healing group key distribution scheme based on the access polynomial and one-way hash key chain for resource-constrained wireless networks in this paper. In our proposed scheme, by binding the time at which the user joins the group with the capability of recovering previous group session keys, some novel methods to construct the personal secret, the access polynomial, and the session key updating broadcast packet are presented. Compared with existing schemes under same conditions, analysis and simulation results show that our proposed scheme not only supports much more group members and sessions, but also provides a stronger security, considering that it can deal with more colluding users. Moreover, our proposed scheme is especially suitable to resource-constrained wireless networks in a very bad environment. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.