In this paper the mechanical properties of micropatterned polyester films prepared to serve as tissue engineering scaffolds of cornea were examined. Films were prepared by solvent casting of blends of poly(L-lactide-co-D,L-lactide) and poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid-co-3-hydroxyvaleric acid), on a micropatterned silicon template. They were seeded with keratocytes or retinal pigment epithelia] cells and subjected to tensile testing to assess the contribution of cells and the deposited extra-cellular matrix (ECM) to the mechanical properties of the scaffold. In all the tests. the films used were wet and the cells were not fixed. Cell-free scaffolds showed a gradual deterioration in strength upon incubation in the cell culture medium at 37 degrees C; the deterioration rate was highest in the first week and decreased significantly over the second and third weeks. The ultimate strength of the cell-free scaffolds decreased from 0.99 to 0.42 N/mm after 21 days of incubation. Cell seeded scaffolds showed a more complicated mechanical strength profile. Their response was found to depend both on the extent of surface coverage and on the cell type. The results were examined after dividing the data into two groups of lower and higher stiffness. For keratocyte seeded scaffolds, the strength of the high stiffness groups continued to increase as the incubation period increased while the lower stiffness groups did not show a distinct change. For the keratocyte seeded scaffolds, tensile strength increased from 0.65 N/mm on Day 7 to 0.73 N/mm on Day 21. On the other hand, the scaffolds seeded with retinal pigment epithelial cells showed a gradual deterioration over time in both the higher and lower stiffness groups. For epithelial cell seeded scaffolds this was 0.98 N/mm on Day 7 and decreased to 0.77 N/mm on Day 21 still an improvement over the unseeded scaffolds. This most probably was a result of a lower rate of ECM secretion in comparison to keratocytes and the newly secreted ECM could not compensate for the influence of scaffold degradation on the mechanical properties. It could, therefore, be concluded that cell seeding plays a positive role in strengthening a tissue engineered construct, and cell type has a significant influence on the extent of this improvement. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.