The cellular reaction to wear debris may result in the failure of an artificial joint's fixation to the skeleton. The influence of debris opsinization on cell activity has received little attention. This study seeks to establish whether different proteinaceous culture environments may invoke variant cellular responses to debris challenge. Consideration of the zeta potential of a low density polyethylene particle group and an ex vitro ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene particle group revealed that the nature of the protein adsorbants is related to the concentration of the proteins in solution. Furthermore, the composition of the adsorbed layer was shown to vary with the spectra of proteins in solution. In standard cell culture conditions zeta potential approached zero, indicating the high probability of particle agglomeration. Cell challenge studies with U937 macrophages showed that BSA and FCS protein adsorption mediated increased cell adhesion, while bovine IgG showed little change over control values. No changes in behavior of osteoblastic cells were observed in similar experiments.