Modern surgical hernia repair depends increasingly on synthetic meshes for reconstruction of the abdominal wall. Despite the undisputed advantages of the synthetic meshes currently available, reports of late complications after implantation are accumulating. It is essential that the synthetic meshes be improved, but this makes a standardized animal model necessary for evaluation of their biocompatibility on both functional and morphological levels. In the present study, commercially available polypropylene and polyester meshes were implanted in a rat model, and detailed morphological and morphometric analysis were carried out. Correlations between the morphological and morphometric data and the function of the artificial abdominal wall were then sought. In summary, the data show that the mesh construction currently available are oversized and definitely restrict the function of the artificial abdominal wall. The degree of inflammation and fibrosis, the pattern of fibrosis, and the composition of the extracellular matrix exert decisive influences on the function. Fibrosis and inflammation are caused less by the material itself, however, than by its density, the way it is processed, and its surface. Future, that is to say second-generated, mesh constructions should be designed with the aims of reducing the amount of material used and finding material-specific processing methods in mind, to improve the functionally and morphologically defined biocompatibility.