Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a key regulator of the development and differentiation of neuronal and non-neuronal cells. In the present study we examined the distribution of NGF and its low and high-affinity receptors, p75and TrkA respectively, in permanent human teeth under normal and pathological conditions. In intact functional teeth, NGF, p75and TrkA are weakly expressed in dental pulp fibroblasts and odontoblasts that are responsible for dentine formation, while the NGF and p75molecules are strongly expressed in nerve fibres innervating the dental pulp. In carious and injured teeth NGF and TrkA expression is upregulated in a selective manner in odontoblasts surrounding the injury sites, indicating a link between NGF signalling and dental tissue repair events. Accordingly, NGF and TrkA expression is strongly upregulated in cultured primary human dental mesenchymal cells during their differentiation into odontoblasts. Targeted release of NGF in cultured human tooth slices induced extensive axonal growth and migration of Schwann cells towards the NGF administration site. These results show that NGF signalling is strongly linked to pathological and regenerative processes in human teeth and suggest a potential role for this neurotrophic molecule in pulp regeneration.