Tissue engineering is an exciting new discipline that uses implanted cells, scaffolds, and inductive molecules to repair or replace injured or diseased tissues and organs. Tremendous progress in biological and biomaterials aspects of this field have been accomplished to date, and several engineered tissues are now being used clinically. However, tissue engineers face major challenges in repairing or replacing tissues that serve a predominantly biomechanical function. To meet this challenge, the United States National Committee on Biomechanics adopted a new paradigm called "Functional Tissue Engineering" to emphasize the importance of biomechanical considerations in the design and development of cell and matrix-based implants for soft and hard tissue repair. The committee now seeks to address these important issues by holding a Functional Tissue Engineering Conference. A select group of biomedical engineers, biologists, and clinicians have been contacted and have agreed to participate in this conference. The goals of the conference will be (1) to increase awareness among tissue engineers about the importance of restoring "function" when engineering cardiovascular, orthopaedic, and dental constructs, (2) to identify the critical structural and mechanical requirements needed for each construct, (3) to provide a source for tissue engineers of functional criteria in the design, manufacture, and optimization of tissue engineered constructs, and (4) to develop a teaching and reference text for students and investigators in the field of tissue engineering. Parallel proposals are also being submitted to the National Institutes of Health, the Whitaker Foundation, and selected tissue engineering companies to cosponsor and co-fund this meeting. This conference will set the tone for both research and training in tissue engineering for the next decade and will serve as the paradigm for academic/industrial interactions in this field. The conference will also lead to a synergy between biomaterials and biomechanics issues in the next generation of biologic devices.