We aimed to compare the therapeutic effects of topical 1% sodium hyaluronate (Healon) or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) for the treatment of alkali-induced epithelial corneal defects. An alkali burn was produced in 30 corneas of 30 New Zealand White rabbits, using a 7.5-mm-diameter trephine. The rabbits were randomly divided into three groups. Four times a day, one group was treated with 1% sodium hyaluronate, one with HPMC, and one (the control group) with physiologic saline. During the treatment period, the size of the epithelial defect was observed every day, up to day 17, using a slit-lamp biomicroscope (with fluorescein). Sodium hyaluronate significantly accelerated the wound healing process compared with saline and increased the healing rate to an even greater extent compared with HPMC. Sodium hyaluronate, but not HPMC, is an effective wound-healing adjuvant for alkali-induced corneal epithelial defects.