Abstract Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme critical for physiological and pathological biomineralization. Experiments were designed to determine whether ALP participates in the formation of calcifying nanometer sized particles (NPs) in vitro. Filtered homogenates of human calcified carotid artery, aorta and kidney stones were inoculated into cell culture medium containing 10% fetal bovine serum in the absence or presence of inhibitors of ALP or pyrophosphate. A calcific NP biofilm developed within 1week after inoculation and their development was reduced by pyrophosphate and inhibitors of ALP. ALP protein and enzymatic activity were detected in washed NPs, whether calcified or decalcified. Therefore, ALP activity is required for the formation of calcifying NPs in vitro, as has previously been implicated during pathological calcification in vivo.