PURPOSE: Thrombospondin-1 (THBS1) has been suggested as a corneal wound-healing modulator. Therefore, we compromised the integrity of the cornea to elucidate the role of THBS1. METHODS: Full-thickness penetrating corneal incisions (1.5 mm) were created in wild type (WT, 129S2/SvPas) and THBS1-deficient mice (Thbs1⁻/⁻), 129S2/SvPas-Thbs1(tm1Hyn)/Thbs1(tm1Hyn)), and allowed to heal up to 1 month, while being monitored by slit-lamp and intravital corneal examinations. Corneas also were examined by transmission electron microscopy and indirect immunofluorescence. To determine how THBS1 was involved in the healing process, we examined THBS1 and α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), a marker of myofibroblasts and myoepithelial cells. RESULTS: In WT mice by 1 month, corneas appeared transparent with a thin scar, and endothelium and Descemet's membrane (DM) were restored. In contrast, Thbs1⁻/⁻ corneas exhibited chronic edema and persistent opacity after wounding. The DM and endothelium were not restored, and wound contraction was impaired. The THBS1 was localized in epithelial cells at early stages of the healing process, and in the stroma and endothelial cells during later stages. The SMA-positive epithelial cells and myofibroblasts were observed within the healing area at day 4, peaked at day 14, and disappeared at day 30. The SMA-positive cells were reduced greatly in Thbs1⁻/⁻ mice. CONCLUSIONS: In the current study, we demonstrated that corneal restoration is strikingly compromised by a penetrating incision in Thbs1⁻/⁻ mice. The wound results in persistent edema and wound gaping. This appears to be the result of the lack of endothelial migration and DM restoration. In addition, myofibroblast formation is compromised, resulting in the lack of wound contraction.