The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of transplanted human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) on wound healing. In this model, full-thickness cutaneous wounds were created by incision in the skin of adult New Zealand white rabbits and treated by transplanted hMSCs into the wounds. Wound healing was evaluated by histological analysis and tensiometry over time. A total of 15 New Zealand white rabbits with 10 wounds per animal were examined in this study. Animals were treated with hMSCs and euthanised at 3, 7, 14, 21 and 80 days after manipulation. The hMSCs were labelled with a fluorescent dye (CM-DiI), suspended in phosphate-buffered saline and used to treat full-thickness incisional wounds in rabbit skin. Tensiometry and histology were used to characterise the wound-healing rate of the incisional wounds. These results showed that transplanted hMSCs significantly inhibited scar formation and increased the tensile strength of the wounds. Importantly, MSCs from genetically unrelated donors did not appear to induce an immunologic response. In conclusion, human mesenchymal stem cell therapy is a viable approach to significantly affect the course of normal cutaneous wound healing and significantly increase the tensile strength. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S.