Synthesis of tart rate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) and formation of resorption pits by osteoclast-like cells, the bone-resorbing cells, on nanophase (that is, material formulations with grain sizes less than 100nm) alumina and hydroxyapatite (HA) were investigated in the present in vitro study. Compared to conventional (that is, grain sizes larger than 100nm) ceramics, synthesis of TRAP was significantly greater in osteoclast-like cells cultured on nanophase alumina and on nanophase HA after 10 and 13 days, respectively. In addition, compared to conventional ceramics, formation of resorption pits was significantly greater by osteoclast-like cells cultured on nanophase alumina and on nanophase HA after 7, 10, and 13 days, respectively. The present study, therefore, demonstrated, for the first time, enhanced osteoclast-like cell function on ceramic surfaces with nanometer-size surface topography. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.