Wound healing involves a coordinated series of tissue movements that bears a striking resemblance to various embryonic morphogenetic episodes. There are several ways in which repair recapitulates morphogenesis. We describe how almost identical cytoskeletal machinery is used to repair an embryonic epithelial wound as is involved during the morphogenetic episodes of dorsal closure in Drosophila and eyelid fusion in the mouse foetus. For both naturally occurring and wound-activated tissue movements, JNK signalling appears to be crucial, as does the tight regulation of associated cell divisions and adhesions. In the embryo, both morphogenesis and repair are achieved with a perfect end result, whereas repair of adult tissues leads to scarring. We discuss whether this may be due to the adult inflammatory response, which is absent in the embryo.