Highly cross-linked aliphatic polyurethane networks have been prepared by the bulk step reaction of low molecular weight polyols and hexamethylenediisocyanate (HDI). These polyurethane networks are optically transparent, colourless and autoclavable amorphous glassy thermosets, which are suited for use in ophthalmic applications such as intraocular lenses and keratoprostheses. The properties of these glassy polyurethanes, obtained from the reaction of the low molecular weight polyols triisopropanolamine (TIPA) or tetrakis (2-hydroxypropyl)ethylenediamine (Quadrol) and HDI in stoichiometric proportions, have been investigated in more detail. The glassy Quadrol/HDI-based polyurethane exhibits a reduction in ultimate glass transition temperature from 85 to 48 degrees C by uptake of 1% of water, and good ultimate mechanical properties (tensile strength 80-85 MPa, elongation at break ca 15%, modulus ca 1.5 GPa). IR spectra of these hydrophobic polyurethane networks revealed the absence of an isocyanate absorption, indicating that all isocyanates, apparently, had reacted during the cross-linking reaction. The biocompatibility could be increased by grafting tethered polyacrylamide chains onto the surface during network formation. These transparent cross-linked polyurethanes did not transmit UV light up to 400 nm, by incorporation of a small amount of the UV absorbing chromophore Coumarin 102, and could be sterilized simply by autoclaving. They were implanted in rabbit eyes, either in the form of small circular disks or in the form of a keratoprosthesis (artificial cornea). It was shown that the material was well tolerated by the rabbit eyes. Serious opacification of the cornea, a direct result of an adverse reaction to the implant, was never seen. Even 1 yr after implantation of a polyurethane keratoprosthesis the eye was still 'quiet'.