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The objective of this study was to evaluate the wound healing potential of l-glutamine in laboratory rats using excision and incision wound models. Excision wounds of size 500 mm2 and depth 2 mm were made on the dorsal portion of male Wistar rats (230–250 g) and were used for the study of oral l-glutamine (1 g/kg) treatment on the rate of contraction of wound and epithelisation. Histological evaluation of wound tissue was also performed. Six-centimetre-long two linear-paravertebral incisions in male Wistar rats (230–250 g) were used to study the effect of l-glutamine (1 g/kg, p.o.) treatment on tensile strength, total protein and hydroxyproline content in the incision model. Oral administration of l-glutamine (1 g/kg) significantly decreased wound area, epithelisation period and wound index, whereas the rate of wound contraction significantly increased (P < 0·001) when compared with vehicle control rats in the excision wound model. Tensile strength, hydroxyproline content and protein level were significantly increased (P < 0·001) in l-glutamine (1 g/kg, p.o.)-treated rats when compared with vehicle control rats in the incision wound model. Histological evaluation of wound tissue from l-glutamine (1 g/kg, p.o.)-treated rats showed complete epithelialisation with new blood vessel formation and high fibrous tissues in the excision wound model. In conclusion, oral administration of l-glutamine (1 g/kg) promotes wound healing by acting on various stages of wound healing such as collagen synthesis, wound contraction and epithelialisation.