Densely sintered synthetic hydroxyapatite (HA) is used as an implant material because of its excellent tissue biocompatibility. In order to maximize the biological potential of this calcium phosphate, we have investigated the incorporation of carbonate into HA to make a material which more closely resembles the mineral found in bones and teeth. The aim of the present study was to determine the conditions under which sintered carbonated apatites of specific carbonate content could be produced. The apatites were prepared by heating compressed pellets of precipitated carbonated apatite under a carbon dioxide/steam or nitrogen/steam atmosphere between 825 and 1050 degrees C. The products were analyzed chemically and the surfaces examined by x-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, reflected light microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The results showed that carbonate loss during sintering could be reliably predicted, making it possible to produce materials with specific carbonate content, and with specific physical and chemical composition.