The use of synthetic calcium phosphate as bone substitute calls for the knowledge of the influence on adjacent cells. Effects on monocytes, macrophages, synovial cells and fibroblasts have been largely described in vivo and in vitro but few data are available as concerns osteoblast responses. The present experiments tested the activity of MC3T3-E1, ROS 17/2.8 and mouse calvaria cells cultured in the presence of hydroxyapatite powders. The three osteoblast-like cells were shown to phagocytoze the calcium phosphate particles. As a consequence, they exhibit reduced cell growth and alkaline phosphatase activity. This response was different when compared with other cell types. The osteogenetic function of osteoblastic cells could be involved in these specific effects of hydroxyapatite.