AIM To study the effects of total velvet antler polypeptides (TVAP), native VAP (nVAP) and synthetic VAP (sVAP) on proliferation of epidermic cells and fibroblasts. METHODS Newborn rat epidermic cells and rabbit chontrocytes were incubated in culture medium containing TVAP or nVAP and sVAP. < 3H>TdR incorporation into DNA was measured. Skin wound healing-promoting action of TVAP was determined in rats. RESULTS TVAP ointment 0 8 and 3 2 mg·g -1 by external application accelerated healing of rat backskin wound. The wound-remaining rate of TVAP-treated group was lower (7 08%±4 57%) than that of the control group (16 16%±6 52%) ( P <0 01) at the 17th day after treatment. nVAP 0 4, 2, 10 and 50 mg·L -1 showed most marked proliferation-promoting activity for rat epidermic cells and increased incorporation of < 3H>TdR from (27±10) Bq (control group) to (112±32), (178±43), (271±48) and (323±32) Bq, respectively ( P <0 01 or P <0 001). It showed that nVAP from TVAP is the main active polypeptide responsible for proliferation of epidermic cells and skin wound healing. sVAP also showed stimulating effect on epidermic cells and fibroblasts. CONCLUSION TVAP accelerated skin wound healing by stimulating proliferation of epidermic cells and fibroblasts.