Abstract Plasma-surface modification (PSM) is an effective and economical surface treatment technique for many materials and of growing interests in biomedical engineering. This article reviews the various common plasma techniques and experimental methods as applied to biomedical materials research, such as plasma sputtering and etching, plasma implantation, plasma deposition, plasma polymerization, laser plasma deposition, plasma spraying, and so on. The unique advantage of plasma modification is that the surface properties and biocompatibility can be enhanced selectively while the bulk attributes of the materials remain unchanged. Existing materials can, thus, be used and needs for new classes of materials may be obviated thereby shortening the time to develop novel and better biomedical devices. Recent work has spurred a number of very interesting applications in the biomedical field. This review article concentrates upon the current status of these techniques, new applications, and achievements pertaining to biomedical materials research. Examples described include hard tissue replacements, blood contacting prostheses, ophthalmic devices, and other products.