The pore size and the in vivo behaviour of four poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) sponges were investigated. The sponges were synthesized by polymerization of monomer in 70, 80 and 90 wt% water, respectively. In one of the formulations, a high amount of initiator was added. The average pore diameter was calculated with Ferry's equation and the results compared to those obtained by examination of samples using environmental scanning electron microscopy. The use of the equation greatly underestimated the size of pores. We also showed that the pores in polymers obtained in 70 wt% water were not interconnected, whilst the pores in polymers obtained in 80 and 90 wt% water, respectively, were larger and interconnected throughout the polymer. When implanted subcutaneously in rabbits, only the latter polymers allowed invasion and proliferation of cells. Penetration and proliferation of cells in these sponges were also assessed by an in vitro method using cultured human fibroblasts. The procedure included the overlaying of a glass plate covered by confluent cultured cells on to the surface of polymer impregnated with collagen. The depth of migration and number of sections needed to be cut to count a fixed number of invading cells were measured after incubation for 2 wk and used as indicators in comparing the ability of various sponges to allow cellular invasion. The assay showed that more cells invaded a hydrogel sponge produced in 80 wt% water than one produced in 90 wt% water. It also showed that the cut polymer surfaces allowed a greater cellular invasion than the moulded ones.