Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) is a trophic factor expressed by glial cells and different neuronal populations. Addition of FGF-2 to spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) explants demonstrated that FGF-2 specifically increases motor neuron axonal growth. To further explore the potential capability of FGF-2 to promote axon regeneration, we produced a lentiviral vector (LV) to overexpress FGF-2 (LV-FGF2) in the injured rat peripheral nerve. Cultured Schwann cells transduced with FGF-2 and added to collagen matrix embedding spinal cord or DRG explants significantly increased motor but not sensory neurite outgrowth. LV-FGF2 was as effective as direct addition of the trophic factor to promote motor axon growth in vitro. Direct injection of LV-FGF2 into the rat sciatic nerve resulted in increased expression of FGF-2, which was localized in the basal lamina of Schwann cells. To investigate the in vivo effect of FGF-2 overexpression on axonal regeneration after nerve injury, Schwann cells transduced with LV-FGF2 were grafted in a silicone tube used to repair the resected rat sciatic nerve. Electrophysiological tests conducted for up to 2 months after injury revealed accelerated and more marked reinnervation of hindlimb muscles in the animals treated with LV-FGF2, with an increase in the number of motor and sensory neurons that reached the distal tibial nerve at the end of follow-up. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.