Background and purpose — Hip resurfacing (HR) is a treatment option promoted for hip arthritis in young and active patients. However, adverse reactions to metal are a concern and the search for non-metallic bearing options proceeds. We present the first clinical study performed in patients using a newly developed hydrophilic polymer-on-polymer hip resurfacing device. Patients and methods — After performing extensive hip simulator tests, biocompatibility testing and animal tests (ISO 14242-1,3; 10993-3,4,5,10,11), approval was obtained from the IRB committee to enroll 15 patients in the first clinical study in humans using this experimental polymer-on-polymer hip resurfacing device. All surgeries were done by 2 experienced hip resurfacing surgeons. Clinical scores and standard radiographs as well as routine MRIs were obtained at regular intervals. Results — The surgical technique proved feasible with successful implantation of the new device using PMMA cement fixation on both sides without complications. Postoperative imaging revealed a well-positioned and well-fixed polymer resurfacing hip arthroplasty in all 4 initial cases. All 4 patients were free of pain and had good function for the first 2 months. However, in all 4 cases early cup loosening occurred between 8 and 11 weeks after surgery, necessitating immediate closure of the study. All 4 patients had a reoperation and were revised to a conventional THA. Retrieval analyses confirmed early cup loosening at the implant–cement interface in all 4 cases. The femoral components remained well attached to the cement. The periprosthetic tissues showed only small amounts of polymeric wear debris and there was only a very mild inflammatory reaction to this. Interpretation — Early cup loosening mandated a premature arrest of this study. After additional laboratory testing this failure mode was found to be the result of a small, yet measurable contraction in the cup size after exposing these implants to biological fluid divalent ion fluctuations in vivo. Currently used preclinical tests had failed to detect this failure mechanism. Modification of the polymer is essential to overcome these problems and before the potential of a polymer-on-polymer resurfacing arthroplasty may be further evaluated in patients.