Oxygen free radicals are produced and play an important role in ischemic injury. We therefore wished to investigate the role of free radicals on ischemic skin wound healing. For this purpose, H-shaped flaps, where the test ischemic wound is the horizontal line in the H, were created on the dorsum of the rat. To inhibit the probable hazards of free radicals, allopurinol and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were given to the animals. Most of the studied wound-healing parameters were impaired in the ischemic group. In the allopurinol-treated group, breaking strength was increased by 52% by day 7 and by 109% by day 14 (p < 0.0002 and p < 0.001), and in the SOD-treated group the increase was 69% both by days 7 and 14 of healing when compared with the ischemic control group (p < 0.003 and p < 0.002). Hydroxyproline content was increased 75% with allopurinol and 113% with SOD in the wound by day 7 (p < 0.03 and p < 0.001 respectively). SOD treatment caused a significant decrease in wound ederma by day 7 of healing (p < .). Histopathological evaluation revealed that in the SOD- and allopurinol- treated groups, the amount of collagen and its organization were more prominent when compared with the ischemic controls. These results show that oxygen free radicals play an important role in the failure of ischemic wound healing, and antioxidants partly improve the healing in ischemic skin wounds.