Many dental clinical implant studies have focused on the success of endosseous implants with a variety of surface characteristics. Most of the surface alterations have been aimed at achieving greater bone-to-implant contact as determined histometrically at the light microscopic level. A previous investigation in non-oral bone under short-term healing periods (3 and 6 weeks) indicated that a sandblasted and acid-etched titanium (SLA) implant had a greater bone-to-implant contact than did a comparably-shaped implant with a titanium plasma-sprayed (TPS) surface. In this canine mandible study, nonsubmerged implants with a SLA surface were compared to TPS-coated implants under loaded and nonloaded conditions for up to 15 months. Six foxhound dogs had 69 implants placed in an alternating pattern with six implants placed bilaterally in each dog. Gold crowns that mimicked the natural occlusion were fabricated for four dogs. Histometric analysis of bone contact with the implants was made for two dogs after 3 months of healing (unloaded group), 6 months of healing (3 months loaded), and after 15 months of healing (12 months loaded). The SLA implants had a significantly higher (p < 0.001) percentage of bone-to-implant contact than did the TPS implants after 3 months of healing (72.33 +/- 7.16 versus 52.15 +/- 9.19; mean +/- SD). After 3 months of loading (6 months of healing) no significant difference was found between the SLA and TPS surfaced implants (68.21 +/- 10.44 and 78.18 +/- 6.81, respectively). After 12 months of loading (15 months of healing) the SLA implants had a significantly greater percentage (p < 0.001) of bone-to-implant contact than did the TPS implants (71.68 +/- 6.64 and 58.88 +/- 4.62, respectively). No qualitative differences in bone tissue were observed between the two groups of implants nor was there any difference between the implants at the clinical level. These results are consistent with earlier studies on SLA implants and suggest that this surface promotes greater osseous contact at earlier time points compared to TPS-coated implants.