Hydroxyapatite (HA) is a widely-used biomaterial for bone repair due to its high degree of osteoconductivity. However, strategies for improving HA performance by functionalizing surfaces with bioactive factors are limited. In this study, we explored the use of a HA-binding domain (heptaglutamate, "E7") to facilitate coupling of the collagen mimetic peptide, DGEA, to two types of HA-containing materials, solid HA disks and electrospun polycaprolactone matrices incorporating nanoparticulate HA. We found that the E7 domain directed significantly more peptide to the surface of HA and enhanced peptide retention on both materials in vitro. Moreover, E7-modified peptides were retained in vivo for at least two months, highlighting the potential of this mechanism as a sustained delivery system for bioactive peptides. Most importantly, E7-DGEA-coupled HA, as compared with DGEA-HA, enhanced the adhesion and osteoblastic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, and also increased new bone formation and direct bone-implant contact on HA disks implanted into rat tibiae. Collectively, these results support the use of E7-DGEA peptides to promote osteogenesis on HA substrates, and further suggest that the E7 domain can serve as a universal tool for anchoring a wide variety of bone regenerative molecules to any type of HA-containing material. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.