The effect of X-irradiation on axonal sprouting of motor nerves induced by botulinum toxin was examined. Muscles of one leg in the mouse were X-irradiated (15Gy) prior to the injection of a locally paralysing dose of botulinum toxin. It was found that axonal sprouting occurred as expected, but the sprouts remained unmyelinated and many degenerated. Fewer new end-plates were formed, muscles remained more severely atrophied and supersensitive to acetylcholine and recovery of neuromuscular transmission was greatly delayed when compared with the effects of botulinum toxin alone. X-irradiation did not prevent sprouting but, probably by impairing Schwann cell proliferation, altered axon-Schwann cell relationships and prevented the maturation of newly-formed axons and the differentiation of new end-plates.