SUMMARY The aim of this research was to determine whether orthodontic tooth movement influences periodontal healing. In 16 male Wistar rats, 12 week of age, a bony defect was created mesial to both maxillary first molars, not including the attachment apparatus (group 1), and in 15 animals, the defect included the periodontal ligament (group 2). In both groups, the right first molar was moved mesially (orthodontic side) for 2 weeks followed by a 1-week retention period; the contralateral molar was not moved (control side). Histomorphometric analysis was performed. The results within and between the different treatment groups and sides were statistically compared by f-test and analysis of variance with repeated measures on logarithmic transformation. Junctional epithelium was significantly larger at the control than at the orthodontic side of both groups (P= 0.024), and significantly larger in group 2 than in group 1 (P< 0.001 ). A significantly (P= 0.034) larger pocket depth was found at the control side in group 1. Supracrestal connective tissue was larger at the control than at the orthodontic side for both groups and significantly larger in group 2 than in group 1 (P= 0.004). Root resorption was found infrequently only at the orthodontic side in both groups (five out of 31 cases). The principal findings suggest favourable effects of orthodontic tooth movement on restraining epithelial apical down-growth and decreasing pocket depth. Orthodontic treatment could not completely avoid formation of a long epithelial attachment. Therefore, periodontal regenerative surgery might be indicated prior to orthodontic tooth movement. Orthodontic movement, shortly after periodontal surgery, had no detrimental effect on periodontal soft tissue healing or on diminished but non-inflamed periodontal tissues.