Four weeks after labeling myelin lipids with an intraneural injection of 3H-acetate, sciatic nerves were crushed, and the distribution of radiolabeled myelin lipids was followed by autoradiography from 1 d to 10 weeks later. Just prior to crush, silver grains were localized to the myelin sheath. Three days after crush, axons were degenerating and myelin sheaths were breaking down; silver grains appeared over lipid droplets within Schwann cells, fibroblasts, and macrophages. One week after crush the basal-lamina-delimited Schwann-cell tubes (Bungner bands) contained myelin debris, and some tubes already contained regenerating axons. Schwann cells were often displaced to the periphery of the tubes by phagocytes containing heavily labeled myelin debris; extratubal macrophages within the endoneurium contained labeled lipid droplets but no myelin debris. Two weeks after nerve crush silver grains were associated with newly formed myelin around regenerating axons. Many extratubal endoneurial macrophages now contained labeled myelin debris and lipid droplets. By 3 weeks myelination of regenerating axons was advanced, and the myelin sheaths were well labeled. Extratubal macrophages had become the major labeled structure within the nerve because they contained large amounts of labeled myelin debris and lipid droplets. From 4 to 10 weeks after nerve crush the new myelin sheaths continued to thicken and to be well labeled. Debris- laden extratubal macrophages remained the major site of labeled material within the endoneurium. Our results confirm that there is reutilization of myelin cholesterol by Schwann cells to form new myelin, and indicate that some lipid catabolism takes place in Schwann cells and endoneurial fibroblasts prior to infiltration of the nerve by macrophages. However, most of the myelin debris is phagocytized by macrophages within 1–2 weeks following nerve injury. These debris-laden macrophages persist within the nerve for many weeks, indicating that much of the salvaged cholesterol is not reutilized for myelin regeneration.