The purpose of this study was to examine the growth and morphology of a salivary epithelial cell line (HSG) in vitro on several biodegradable substrata as an important step toward developing an artificial salivary gland. The substrates examined were poly-(L)-lactic acid (PLLA), polyglycolic acid (PGA), and two co-polymers, 85% and 50% PLGA, respectively. The substrates were formed into 20- to 25-mm disks, and the cells were seeded directly onto the polymers or onto polymers coated with specific extracellular matrix proteins. The two copolymer substrates became friable over time in aqueous media and proved not useful for these experiments. The purified matrix proteins examined included fibronectin (FN), laminin (LN), collagen I, collagen IV, and gelatin. In the absence of preadsorbed proteins, HSG cells did not attach to the polymer disks. The cells, in general, behaved similarly on both PLLA and PGA, although optimal results were obtained consistently in PLLA. On FN-coated PLLA disks, HSG cells were able to form a uniform monolayer, which was dependent on time and FN concentration. Coating of disks with LN, collagen I, and gelatin also promoted monolayer growth. This study defines the conditions necessary for establishing a monolayer organization of salivary epithelial cells with rapid proliferation on a biodegradable substrate useful for tissue engineering.