Hydroxyapatite (HA) films have been widely recognized for their biocompatibility and utility in promoting biointegration of implants in both osseous and soft tissue. Conventional sputtering techniques have shown some advantages over the commercially available plasma spraying method; however, the as-sputtered films are usually amorphous which can cause some serious adhesion problems when post-deposition heat treatment is necessitated. In this paper we present an opposing radio frequency (RF) magnetron sputtering approach for the preparation of RA thin films on various substrates at low power levels. Using this alternative RF magnetron geometry, as-sputtered HA films are nearly stoichiometric, highly crystalline, and strongly bound to the substrate. Post-deposition heat treatment under 800 degrees C did not result in a marked improvement in the degree of crystallinity of the films. In addition, dissolution experiments show that as-sputtered films are more stable than annealed ones. Assputtered films grown on amorphous silica substrates exhibit X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns similar to those of randomly orientated HA powder. On the other hand, films deposited on oriented substrates such as Si(100) and Si(I I I) show a polycrystalline HA XRD pattern but with some strongly preferred orientations, indicating that HA crystallization is sensitive to the nature of the substrate. The results suggest that the opposing RF magnetron sputtering approach has some potential to produce high quality HA films on metallic implants. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.