Novel hydroxyapatite-zirconia-lanthanum oxide composites for bioceramic applications were synthesized and their structural, mechanical and biological properties were studied. Pure HA was produced via precipitation method and the composites were obtained by several fabrication steps: powder milling, mixing, cold pressing and sintering at 1100 degrees C for 1 h. The experimental results indicated that the composites consisted of hydroxyapatite as the main phase with a trace amount of tricalcium phosphate. Calcium zirconate (CaZrO3) was also formed by the reaction between zirconia and calcium oxide (CaO) which is the thermal decomposition product of hydroxyapatite. Addition of zirconia and lanthanum oxide resulted a more loose and porous structure on the surface. The diametral tensile strength of the composites was higher with respect to pure hydroxyapatite. The microhardness of the composites, except the one with the composition of 90 wt% HA and 10 wt% Zr, was relatively lower than that of pure HA but these composites had higher machinability. Cell culture studies with osteoblast-like Saos-2 cell line showed that composites and pure hydroxyapatite were biocompatible. Based on these findings, hydroxyapatite-zirconia-lanthanum oxide composites hold potential to be used in hard tissue replacement and regeneration therapies. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd and Techna Group S.r.l. All rights reserved.