The fracture or failure behaviours of four commercial acrylic-based bone cements have been examined in tensile, bending and compression modes, and their mechanical properties are reviewed. It was found that Palacos R-40 bone cement had high radiopaque agent concentration, with high surface hardness. It exhibited a much lower bending strength and bending modulus compared with the other three bone cements (CMW1, CMW2000 and Simplex P). The textures of tensile fracture surfaces produced were similar for the four bone cements studied. The fracture surface was fragmented by crevices, which developed through the matrix and around large undissolved polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) beads. Three bands with different features existed on the bending fracture surfaces, with an abrupt transition between them. It appears that the agglomerates of zirconium dioxide particles are implicated in Palacos R-40 bone cement fracture surface. The examination of compressive failed specimens revealed that a 'yielded crack band' existed across the transverse section. Plastic deformation resulted in the PMMA beads being squashed in the longitudinal direction and dilated in the transverse direction.