Our past work indicates that growth-inhibiting chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG) is abundant in the peripheral nerve sheaths and interstitium. In this study we tested if degradation of CSPG by chondroitinase enhances axonal regeneration through the site of injury after (a) nerve crush and (b) nerve transection and coaptation. Adult rats received the same injury bilaterally to the sciatic nerves and then chondroitinase ABC was injected near the injury site on one side, and the contralateral nerve was injected with vehicle alone. Nerves were examined 2 days after injury in the nerve crush model and 4 days after injury in the nerve transection model. Chondroitinase-dependent neoepitope immunolabeling showed that CSPG was thoroughly degraded around the injury site in the chondroitinase-treated nerves. Axonal regeneration through the injury site and into the distal nerve was assessed by GAP-43 immunolabeling. Axonal regeneration after crush injury was similar in chondroitinase-treated and control nerves. In contrast, axonal regrowth through the coaptation of transected nerves was markedly accelerated and the ingress of axons into the distal segment was increased severalfold in nerves injected with chondroitinase. On the basis of these results we concluded that growth inhibition by CSPG contributes critically to the poor regenerative growth of axons in nerve transection repair. In addition, degradation of CSPG by injection of chondroitinase ABC at the site of nerve repair increased the ingress of axonal sprouts into basal laminae of the distal nerve segment, presumably by enabling more latitude in growth at the interface of coapted nerve. This suggests that chondroitinase application may be used clinically to improve the outcome of primary peripheral nerve repair.