Intragastric administration of 3.4 M NaCl damages the gastric mucosa and increases the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine synthesis. Polyamines are essential for the repair of gastric erosions. Little is known about the restitution of damaged mucosa except that cell migration is essential. Actin is the principal cytoskeletal protein and is essential for migration. This investigation determines the relationship between polyamines, actin, and gastric healing. Rats were fasted for 22 h and given 1.0 ml of 3.4 M NaCl intragastrically and killed 1, 2, 4, 8, and 10 h later. The mucosa was assayed for ODC activity and stained for G- and F-actin. F-actin was concentrated below the damaged mucosa at 1.5, 2, and 4 h. There was no increase in F-actin distribution at any time point, when NaCl-treated animals were given alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a specific inhibitor of ODC. In addition, DFMO significantly prevented the healing of the mucosal lesions. Spermidine treatment after DFMO + NaCl significantly prevented the effects of DFMO. Cytochalasin D, a potent actin-disrupting drug, significantly delayed normal gastric mucosal healing. The endogenous polyamines increased significantly in NaCl animals. Data indicate that increases in polyamine synthesis after damage influence the distribution of F-actin in vivo, which may play a part in the healing of mucosal erosions.