OBJECTIVES: Tissue engineering methods can be applied to regenerate diseased, or congenitally missing, urinary tract tissues. Urinary tract tissue cell cultures must be established in vitro and adequate matrices, acting as cell carriers, must be developed. Although degradable and nondegradable polymer matrices offer adequate mechanical stability, they are not optimal for cell adherence and growth. To overcome this problem, extracellular matrix proteins, permitting cell adhesion and regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, can be adsorbed to the surface-modified polymer. METHODS: In this study, nondegradable polymer films, poly(ethylene terephthalate), were used as an experimental model. Films were modified by graft polymerization of acrylic acid to subsequently allow collagen type I and III immobilization. The following adhesion, proliferation of human urothelial cells, and induction of their stratification were analyzed. RESULTS: Collagen adsorption on 0.2 microg/cm2 poly(acrylic acid)-grafted polymer films rendered the matrix apt for human urothelial cell adhesion and proliferation. Furthermore, stratification of urothelial cells was demonstrated on these surface-modified matrices. CONCLUSIONS: These results have shown that surface-modified polymer matrices can be used to act as cell carriers for cultured human urothelial cells. Such a cell-matrix construct could be applied in reparative surgery of the urinary tract.