Abstract Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and heparan sulphate (HS) were detected immunohistochemically in mandibular condylar cartilage, and the findings compared with those on epiphyseal articular cartilage. In the condylar cartilage, both bFGF and HS were localized in chondrocytes throughout the various zones including the fibrous, proliferative, mature-cell and hypertrophic zones: bFGF immunostaining was most significant in the proliferative and mature-cell zones, while intense staining for HS was found mainly in the hypertrophic zone. Immunoreaction for bFGF was detected in the nuclei of chondrocytes, whereas HS staining was observed in the cytoplasm. In articular cartilage, only chondrocytes beneath the superficial zone (intermediate zone) demonstrated both bFGF and HS immunoreactivities. Chondrocytes in the deeper calcifying region of the articular cartilage did not immunoreact for either bFGF or HS. These findings suggest that, in contrast to the epiphyseal articular cartilage, a continuous bFGF-mediated remodelling of cells and matrix takes place in mandibular condylar cartilage during the process of endochondral ossification.