The widespread success of clinical implantology stems from bone's ability to form rigid, load-bearing connections to titanium and certain bioactive coatings. Adhesive biomolecules in the extracellular matrix are presumably responsible for much of the strength and stability of these junctures. Histochemical and spectroscopic analyses of retrievals have been supplemented by studies of osteoblastic cells cultured on implant materials and of the adsorption of biomolecules to titanium powder. These data have often been interpreted to suggest that proteoglycans permeate a thin, collagen-free zone at the most intimate contact points with implant surfaces. This conclusion has important implications for the development of surface modifications to enhance osseointegration. The evidence for proteoglycans at the interface, however, is somewhat less than compelling due to the lack of specificity of certain histochemical techniques and to possible sectioning artifacts. With this caveat in mind, we have devised a working model to explain certain observations of implant interfaces in light of the known physical and biological properties of bone proteoglycans. This model proposes that titanium surfaces accelerate osseointegration by causing the rapid degradation of a hyaluronan meshwork formed as part of the wound-healing response. It further suggests that the adhesive strength of the thin, collagen-free zone is provided by a bilayer of decorin proteoglycans held in tight association by their overlapping glycosaminoglycan chains.