This study involves comparison of the mechanical properties of reconstituted collagen fibres with those of collagen fibres obtained from rat tail tendons. Reconstituted collagen fibres were cross-linked in the presence of glutaraldehyde vapour for 2 and 4 d or using a combination of severe dehydration and carbodiimide treatment. Ultimate tensile strengths for reconstituted fibres cross-linked with glutaraldehyde ranged from 50 to 66 MPa while those cross-linked by severe dehydration and carbodiimide treatment had ultimate tensile strengths between 24 and 31 MPa. Rat tail tendon fibres had tensile strengths that ranged from 33 to 39 MPa. These results indicate that high-strength collagen fibres can be reconstituted in vitro and that these fibres may be useful in repair of dermal, dental, cardiovascular and orthopaedic defects.