Basic fibroblast growth factor is a well known osteostimulative protein. The effects of basic fibroblast growth factor are dose-dependent and, when used with a carrier, influenced by the release kinetics. Aim of our study was to determine the effects of a composite of basic fibroblast growth factor and a newly developed, in situ setting tricalcium phosphate (TCP) cement. A trepanation defect in the distal femoral epiphysis of Merino-Mix sheep with a diameter of 9.4 mm and 10 mm depth was filled with the in situ setting TCP cement combined with 0 or 200 microg of bFGF/cm(3) TCP, autologous bone graft or left empty. The sheep were euthanized after 3 months. The defect and the periimplant area were examined by microradiography, histology, and histomorphometry. The data was analyzed with the help of the Wilcoxon and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Defects filled with TCP with or without bFGF showed a close bone-cement contact. The histomorphometric analysis revealed that the addition of bFGF inhibited the ingrowth of bone significantly, while the resorption of the cement was not influenced. In conclusion, the clinical application of this bFGF/TCP-composite does not seem promising. The reason for the inhibition of new bone formation will be discussed, but requires further investigation.