Calcium phosphate (CaP) bioceramics, especially hydroxyapatite (HA), have been used as coatings on implants owing to their biocompatible properties. The commercial practice for applying HA coating, plasma spraying, has some disadvantages which limit the long-term stability of the implants. Pulsed laser deposition (PLD) is being investigated as an alternative technique. The purpose of this research was to systematically study the effect of various parameters of the PLD process on the properties of CaP coatings. In this study, three types of HA targets and two laser wavelengths were used to make six categories of coatings. Predominantly crystalline HA coatings were produced under all six categories at optimum conditions, although small amounts of minor phases sometimes were found. Sufficient coating/substrate bond strength was also obtained. A wide variety of coating morphologies was obtained, from rather dense and uniform to rough and porous. The important factors that affected the morphology included target properties, vacuum level, deposition temperature, and laser wavelength and energy density. PLD's ability to produce both amorphous and crystalline, and both smooth/dense and rough/porous coatings may be a unique advantage. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.