After injury of the central nervous system (CNS) in higher vertebrates, neurons neither grow nor reconnect with their targets because their axons or dendrites cannot regenerate within the injured site. In the CNS, the signal from the environment regulating neurite regeneration is not exclusively generated by one molecular group. This signal is generated by the interaction of various types of molecules such as extracellular matrix proteins, soluble factors and surface membrane molecules; all these elements interact with one another generating the matrix's biological state: the extracellular balance. Proteins in the balanced extracellular matrix, support and promote cellular physiological states, including neuritic regeneration. We have reviewed three types of proteins of the extracellular matrix possessing an inhibitory effect and that are determinant of neuritic regeneration failure in the CNS: chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, keratan sulfate proteoglycans and tenascin. We also review some of the mechanisms involved in the balance of extracellular proteins such as isomerization, epimerization, sulfation and glycosylation as well as the assemblage of the extracellular matrix, the interaction between the matrix and soluble factors and its proteolytic degradation. In the final section, we have presented some examples of the matrix's role in development and in tumor propagation.