Abstract Background The mechanisms underpinning the regenerative capabilities of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were originally thought to reside in their ability to recognise damaged tissue and to differentiate into specific cell types that would replace defective cells. However, recent work has shown that molecules produced by MSCs (secretome), particularly those packaged in extracellular vesicles (EVs), rather than the cells themselves are responsible for tissue repair. Methods Here we have produced a secretome from adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSC) that is free of exogenous molecules by incubation within a saline solution. Various in vitro models were used to evaluate the effects of the secretome on cellular processes that promote tissue regeneration. A cardiotoxin-induced skeletal muscle injury model was used to test the regenerative effects of the whole secretome or isolated extracellular vesicle fraction in vivo. This was followed by bioinformatic analysis of the components of the protein and miRNA content of the secretome and finally compared to a secretome generated from a secondary stem cell source. Results Here we have demonstrated that the secretome from adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells shows robust effects on cellular processes that promote tissue regeneration. Furthermore, we show that the whole ADSC secretome is capable of enhancing the rate of skeletal muscle regeneration following acute damage. We assessed the efficacy of the total secretome compared with the extracellular vesicle fraction on a number of assays that inform on tissue regeneration and demonstrate that both fractions affect different aspects of the process in vitro and in vivo. Our in vitro, in vivo, and bioinformatic results show that factors that promote regeneration are distributed both within extracellular vesicles and the soluble fraction of the secretome. Conclusions Taken together, our study implies that extracellular vesicles and soluble molecules within ADSC secretome act in a synergistic manner to promote muscle generation.