The involvement of the immune system in the response to tissue injury has raised the possibility that it might influence tissue, organ or appendage regeneration following injury. One hypothesis that has been discussed is that inflammatory aspects may preclude the occurrence of regeneration, but there is also evidence for more positive roles of immune components. The vertebrate eye is an immunoprivileged site where inflammatory aspects are inhibited by several immunomodulatory mechanisms. In various newt species the ocular tissues such as the lens are regenerative and it has recently been shown that the response to local injury of the lens involves activation of antigen-presenting cells which traffic to the spleen and return to displace and engulf the lens, thereby inducing regeneration from the dorsal iris. The activation of thrombin from prothrombin in the dorsal iris is one aspect of the injury response that is important in the initiation of regeneration. The possible relationships between the immune response and the regenerative response are considered with respect to phylogenetic variation of regeneration in general, and lens regeneration in particular.