The discovery of growth factors, such as osteogenic growth peptide (OGP), that stimulate bone formation led to experiments to discover whether they can accelerate fracture healing. To determine whether OGP enhances the rate of healing in rabbits, fractures were made in the tibiae of New Zealand White rabbits and immobilized with either a plastic plate (unstable mechanical conditions), or a dynamic compression plate (stable mechanical conditions). OGP was administered to experimental animals by intravenous injection from day 4 until the day before sacrifice; control animals were not injected. After treatment with OGP, callus development under unstable mechanical conditions was accelerated. At 7 days, the cartilage in the centre of the callus was covered by bone and endochondral ossification had started; these events occur at 10 days in control fractures. Subsequently, endochondral ossification is completed earlier which allows the invasion of the fracture gap by cells, so that cortical union is complete by 21 to 28 days. In control fractures, bone is only beginning to form in the gaps at 28 days. There was no increase in the size of the callus in any of the experimental fractures compared to the untreated controls. Treatment with OGP has no observable effect on the rate of healing of fractures under stable mechanical conditions. These observations suggest that under unstable mechanical conditions only, the rate of callus formation and subsequent cortical healing is enhanced by treatment with OGP, but that the size of the callus is determined by mechanical and other factors.