We examined the structural characteristics of repair tissue induced by recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 in a rabbit model of laryngotracheal reconstruction. Twenty-four New Zealand White rabbits were randomly divided into four groups of six rabbits. Two groups were treated with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 delivered on an absorbable collagen sponge, while two groups were used as controls. Rabbits were euthanized at 1 and 4 weeks after surgery. The larynx was removed, fixed, and sectioned. The sections were stained with hematoxylin-eosin, safranine O/fast green, and immunostained with an antibody for tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1. In rabbits treated with bone morphogenetic protein-2, the defects were filled with new cartilage and bone at 4 weeks after surgery. There were no discontinuities or gaps at the margins of the cartilage defects. Proteoglycans were synthesized in new cartilage in rabbits treated with bone morphogenetic protein-2, and were present 4 weeks after surgery. The general aspects of the vascular pattern and the pattern of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 expression were similar in control and treated rabbits, both 1 week and 4 weeks after surgery. The repair tissue induced by recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 consisted of new cartilage and bone perfectly integrated with host tissue at the site of the cricoid cartilage defects. This new cartilage was able to mature and produce proteoglycans.