There is continued interest in the development of new biomaterials. The application of new implantable biomaterials requires intense research and thorough evaluation. Much time and effort has been required to overcome the risks and problems associated with the bioabsorbable devices. For surgical bone fixation, these materials were investigated since the 1960's. Different polymer properties were explored to ensure adequate strength and biocompatibility. High-molecular-weight bioabsorbable polymers were initially used, followed by addition of reinforcement materials. The most recent materials are self-reinforced, small yet strong devices. The newer generations contain bioactive substances such as antibiotics and growth factors. Bioabsorbable materials are constantly changing as we try to adopt the principles of tissue engineering. Surgeons are using new techniques to exploit these polymers and their bioabsorbable properties. It is hoped that this multidisciplinary approach of surgery and research will continue to help the further evolution of biomaterial science.