Abstract This study examined the cell attachment and proliferation of neonatal rat calvarial osteoblasts on Ti6Al4V alloy as affected by the surface modifications. The modifications could alter simultaneously the surface chemistries of the alloy (elemental difference of Ti, Al, V, Cu and Ni about 300–600 μm thick examined by EDS) as well as the XPS nano-surface characteristics of oxides on the metal surface (chemistries of oxides, amphoteric OH group adsorbed on oxides, and oxide thickness). Three materials including two from modifications and a control were examined. It is argued that a slight change of the nano-surface characteristics of oxides as a result of the modifications neither alters the in vitro capability of Ca and P ion adsorption nor affects the metal ion dissolution behavior of the alloy. This implies that any influence on the cytocompatibility of the materials should only be correlated to the effect of surface chemistries of the alloy and the associated metal ion dissolution behavior of the alloy. The experimental results suggest that the cell response of neonatal rat calvarial osteoblasts on the Ti6Al4V alloy should neither be affected by the variation of surface chemistries of the alloy in a range studied.