Two forms of bovine pericardium (BPC) were assessed as hernia repair materials: non-cross-linked (lyophilized) and cross-linked through treatment with glutaraldehyde (GA). These were compared with polypropylene mesh (Marlex) in a rabbit model. Over 52 wk implantation, the GA BPC grafts developed a strong, stable, fibrous tissue replacement with good incorporation into the abdominal muscle wall. The lyophilized BPC grafts were substantially resorbed within 12 wk of implantation, however the thin, fibrous replacement tissue was inadequate for abdominal wall support. Marlex grafts provided sufficient abdominal support, however these grafts were associated with extensive adhesion formation and, in this model, fat deposition around the perimeter of the graft. Control (ungrafted) rabbit abdominal muscle in the transverse orientation had an ultimate tensile load (UTL) of 11.4 +/- 5.1 N (x +/- s.d.) and a strain at UTL of 35 +/- 12% (n = 169). At 52 weeks the UTL of the repair sites was 7.3 +/- 4.5 N (n = 6), 5.1 +/- 3.5 N (n = 6) and 5.6 +/- 2.7 N (n = 6) for GA BPC, lypophilized BPC and Marlex grafts, respectively.