Tissue reactions toward biodegradable poly(L-lactic acid) implants were monitored by studying the activity pattern of seven enzymes as a function of time: alkaline phosphatase, acid phosphatase, -naphthyl acetyl esterase, -glucuronidase, ATP-ase, NADH-reductase, and lactate dehydrogenase. Cell types were identified by their specific enzyme patterns, their morphology and location. Special attention was paid to the enzyme patterns of macrophages, fibroblasts and polymorphonuclear granulocytes (PMNs), being involved in foreign body reactions or inflammatory responses. One day after implantation, an influx of neutrophilic and eosinophilic granulocytes was observed, coinciding with activity of alkaline phosphatase (PMN's) and -glucuronidase (eosinophils). From day 3 on, macrophages containing ATP-ase, acid phosphatase and esterase could be observed. From day 7 on, lactate dehydrogenase, the enzyme normally involved in the conversion of lactic acid, and its coenzyme NADH-reductase were observed in macrophages and fibroblasts. These two enzymes demonstrated more activity than expected on basis of wound-healing reactions upon implantation of a nonbiodegradable, inert biomaterial (as, e.g., Teflon). It is concluded that the biodegradable poly (L-lactic acid) used in these implantation studies is tissue compatible, and evokes a foreign body reaction with minor macrophage and giant cell activity, as observed during this 3-week implantation period. Most enzyme patterns were simply due to a wound-healing reaction. The slightly increased levels of LDH and NADH suggest the release of lactic acid from the implant, and thus confirms the biodegradable nature of this polymer.