The goal of placement of endosseous dental implants is to achieve osseointegration or biointegration of the bone with the implant. A wide variety of materials has been used for these implants, but only a few promote osseointegration and biointegration. Titanium and titanium alloy (Ti6A14V) have been the most widely used of these materials. The surface oxide of titanium appears to be central to the ability of this material to osseointegrate. The oxide limits dissolution of elements and promotes the deposition of biological molecules which allow bone to exist as close as 30 A to the surface of the implant. The details of the ultrastructure of the gap between the implant and bone remain undefined, and the consequences of elements which are released on the interface over time are not known. These areas of investigation are particularly important in defining the differences between commercially pure titanium implants and those made of titanium, aluminium and vanadium. The epithelial interface between the gingiva and titanium appears to contain many of the structural characteristics of the native tooth-gingiva interface, but details are still vague. The connective tissue interface with the titanium appears to be one of tightly fitting tissues rather than adhesion. Ceramic coatings appear to improve the ingrowth of bone and promote chemical integration of the implant with the bone. The characteristics of these coatings are complex and affect the bony response, but the mechanisms remain obscure. The degradation of the coatings is an issue of particular controversy. Progress in dental implantology is likely to continue as the interface between the material and bone is more clearly understood, and biological molecules and artificial tissues are developed.