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Many organisms and tissues display the ability to heal and regenerate as needed for normal physiology and as a result of pathogenesis. However, these repair activities can also be observed at the single-cell level. The physical and molecular mechanisms by which a cell can heal membrane ruptures and rebuild damaged or missing cellular structures remain poorly understood. This Review presents current understanding in wound healing and regeneration as two distinct aspects of cellular self-repair by examining a few model organisms that have displayed robust repair capacity, including Xenopus oocytes, Chlamydomonas, and Stentor coeruleus. Although many open questions remain, elucidating how cells repair themselves is important for our mechanistic understanding of cell biology. It also holds the potential for new applications and therapeutic approaches for treating human disease.