Biocompatibility and tissue regenerating capacity are essential characteristics in the design of collagenous biomaterials for tissue engineering. Attachment of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) to collagen may add to these characteristics by creating an appropriate micro-environment. In this study, porous type I collagen matrices were crosslinked using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl)carbodiimide, in the presence and absence of chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate. The tissue response to these matrices was evaluated after subcutaneous implantation in rats. Biocompatibility of the matrices was established by the induction of a transitional inflammatory response, and the generation of new host tissue. Non-crosslinked collagen was gradually resorbed and replaced by collagenous connective tissue. By contrast, crosslinked matrices, with and without GAGs. retained their scaffold integrity during implantation, and supported the interstitial deposition and organization of extracellular matrix. In addition, crosslinking decreased tissue reactions at late time intervals. No calcification in any of the implants was observed. The presence of GAGs preserved porous lamellar matrix structures. Heparan sulfate in particular promoted angiogenesis at weeks 2 and 4, predominantly at the matrix periphery. The almost complete absence of macrophages and giant cells associated with collagen-GAG matrices, after 10 weeks implantation, indicated a reduced foreign body reaction. It is concluded that attachment of GAGs to collagen matrices modulates the tissue response. The potential of these biocompatible scaffolds for tissue engineering is increased by preserving porous matrix integrity. promoting angiogenesis and reducing foreign body reactions.