Recent advances in the physiology of wound repair, in particular the identification of multiple growth factors, challenge previous understanding of the healing process and demand familiarity with molecular biology and cellular physiology. In the midst of this, few, poorly tested, seldom used methods of evaluating real patient's wounds exist. This paper analyzes some of the historical reasons underlying the present dearth of methods for systematically monitoring human healing. The discussion points out that this paucity did not occur because of a lack of interest or good will on the part of many. Knowledge of the past and the needs of the present, however, should only serve as fodder for changing the status quo. Those non-invasive instruments available for use in the clinical measurement of healing are described. Finally, suggestions for rectifying the need for valid, reliable, clinically useful methods of evaluating healing in humans are presented. © 1991.