Bone mineral morphology is altered by processing and this is rarely considered when preparing bone as a bioimplant material. To examine the degree of transformation, a commercial, coarsely particulate bone mineral biomaterial produced by prolonged deproteination, defatting, dehydration, and heating (donor material) was compared with similar particles of human bone (recipient material) prepared optimally by low-temperature milling. The two powders were freeze-substituted and embedded without thawing in Lowicryl K4M before sectioning for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) (other aliquots were processed by traditional TEM methods). To maximize resolution, electron micrographs were image-enhanced by digitization and printed as negatives using a Polaroid Sprint Scan 45. In addition to their morphology, the particles were examined for antigenicity (specific by reference to fluorescein isothiocyanate [FITC]-conjugated fibronectin, and nonspecific by reference to general FITC-conjugated immunoglobulins). Results showed that the optimally prepared human bone fragments stained discretely for fibronectin with negligible background autofluorescence. In contrast, the bioimplant fragments stained extensively with this and any other FITC-conjugated antibody and, unlike fresh bone, it also autofluoresced a uniform yellow. This difference was also expressed structurally and, although the bioimplant mineral consisted of rhomboidal plates up to 200 nm across and 10 nm thick, the optimally prepared bone mineral was composed of numerous clusters of 5-nm-wide sinuous calcified filaments of variable density and indeterminate length (which became straight needles 50 nm long and 5 nm thick following traditional chemical TEM fixation/staining). It was concluded that the inorganic phase of bone is both morphologically and immunologically transmutable and that, in biomaterials, the transformation is apparently so great that a broad indigenous antigenicity is unmasked, increasing the likelihood of resorption or rejection. This marked change may also provide preliminary insight into a more modest natural aging phenomenon with the localized lateral fusion of calcified filaments into less flexible, more immunologically reactive fenestrated plates.