The macrophage is a prominent inflammatory cell in wounds, but its role in healing remains incompletely understood. Macrophages have many functions in wounds, including host defence, the promotion and resolution of inflammation, the removal of apoptotic cells, and the support of cell proliferation and tissue restoration following injury. Recent studies suggest that macrophages exist in several different phenotypic states within the healing wound and that the influence of these cells on each stage of repair varies with the specific phenotype. Although the macrophage is beneficial to the repair of normally healing wounds, this pleotropic cell type may promote excessive inflammation or fibrosis under certain circumstances. Emerging evidence suggests that macrophage dysfunction is a component of the pathogenesis of nonhealing and poorly healing wounds. As a result of advances in the understanding of this multifunctional cell, the macrophage continues to be an attractive therapeutic target, both to reduce fibrosis and scarring, and to improve healing of chronic wounds.