Abstract Calcium phosphate (CaP) preparations are established coatings for titanium-based medical implants used for bone reconstruction. However, biodegradation of the coating can result in microparticles that subsequently cause inflammatory reactions. The present study was therefore aimed at investigating the inflammatory response to two series of CaP-coated titanium plates: Ti-brushite (Ti-B) and Ti-hydroxyapatite (Ti-H) implants. Fifteen male LEW.1A rats received one plate of each series and a pellet (5 × 2 mm) of sol–gel derived silica/CaP (SCP implants) implanted into the back musculature. After 7, 14 and 28 days, five rats were killed and the implants were removed with the surrounding tissue. Quantitative immunohistochemistry was performed on frozen sections. Total monocytes/macrophages, tissue macrophages, T-cells, MHC-class-II-positive cells and proliferating cells were counted. For the Ti-B implants, the number of monocytes/macrophages remained constant while the other cell populations increased. In contrast, for the Ti-H implants the number of monocytes/macrophages decreased while the other cell populations remained constant. The SCP implants demonstrated degradation and scattering into smaller particles with an increase for all cell populations except the proliferating cells. Human mesenchymal stem cells demonstrated adherence and a flat morphology on Ti-B and Ti-H implants and no remarkable difference between both implants. Taken together, the in vivo data demonstrate that the short-term inflammatory response against a hydroxyapatite coating is lower in comparison to a brushite coating, and that the morphology of cells growing in vitro is similar on both layers.