Antlers grow rapidly through the coordinated development of both osseocartilage and skin (velvet). The regional patterns of cell division in these two compartments were assessed by immunochemical detection of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in antlers from one-year-old red deer. The whole antler integument was in a state of growth and/or renewal, particularly the keratinocytes of the basal cell layer of the epidermis near the tip, and hair bulbs and sebaceous glands. More proximally, a zone of weaker mitotic activity was detected. Within the osseocartilagenous compartment, rapid mitosis was particularly apparent within the distal mesenchyme, visible as a dome-shaped band of staining. Mitotic activity of chondrocytes and osteoblasts was more extensive in peripheral areas of developing bone than in the centre. We conclude that the antler tip is the site of most active epidermal growth, and hypothesise that other mechanisms in addition to mechanical stretching play a role in growth of the integument.