Polyhydroxyethyl methacrylate (pHEMA) membranes coated on one side with chondroitin sulfate (CS) were used to block adhesion physically and to reduce friction between healing flexor tendons and the surrounding tissue in rabbit forepaws after surgical repair. Digits with pHEMA-only, standard tendon sheath repair, and with no sheath repair were the controls. Over 12 weeks the CS-coated membranes were evaluated for joint flexion, adhesion limitation, and tendon healing progress. The membranes initially allowed for better flexion (i.e, for 6 weeks), but their relative superior effectiveness faded afterward. Histology showed that adhesions were less severe and healing was better in the CS-pHEMA membranes at 3 and 6 weeks. If further studies determine precise amounts or thicknesses of CS coats that will maximize its healing properties, CS-pHEMA should prove useful in clinical settings in which restoration of tendon sheath integrity with a minimum of adhesions is not possible. Copyright (C) 2002 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.