PURPOSE: To evaluate the effects of lipoic acid (thioctic acid) topical application on wound healing on rats skin, and the consequences of lipoic acid nanoencapsulation on this process. METHODS: The model used was the healing activity on wounds induced by surgical incision on rats skin (n = 44). The parameters analyzed (11 days) were wound healing rate and histology (vascular proliferation, polymorphonuclear or mononuclear cells, and collagen synthesis or reepithelialization), after application of free lipoic acid or lipoic acid- loaded nanocapsules. The antioxidant activity of these formulations was evaluated by lipid peroxidation test. RESULTS: It was demonstrated for the first time that the topical application of lipoic acid improves wound healing. On the seventh day after surgery, the animals treated with lipoic acid showed increased healing rate (60.7 ± 8.4%) compared to the negative control group (43.0 ± 17.4%), as so improvement of histological parameters. The nanoencapsulation reverted the pro-oxidant activity presented in vitro by lipoic acid, whereas diminished wound repair. CONCLUSIONS: The topical application of lipoic acid produced an increase in the skin wound healing, which may be related to its pro-oxidant activity. On the other hand, the nanoencapsulation of the lipoic acid reversed the pro-oxidant activity, although presented minor healing activity.