A nano hydroxyapatite (HAp) layer was coated on a roughen titanium surface by means of electrophoretic deposition with an acetic anhydride solvent system. The objectives of this current study are to investigate whether nano-HAp can improve mechanical strength at a lower sintering temperature and biocompatibility. Densification temperature was lowered from usual 1000 to 800 degrees C. The coating interfacial bonding strength, phase purity, microstructure, and biocompatibility were investigated. Degradation of HA phase was not detected in XRD. A porous TiO2 layer acts as a gradient coating layer with an intermediate thermal expansion coefficient between hydroxyapatite and titanium that reduces the thermal stress. From SEM image, the coating does not contain any crack. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) is the progenitor cell for various tissues in mature animals, which can improve integration of bone tissue into implant. In this in vitro study, rabbit MSCs culture indicated that the HAp/Ti nanocomposite biomaterial had good biocompatibility and bioactivity. Around materials and on its surface cell grew well with good morphology. Proliferation of the MSCs on the nano-HAp coating was higher than its micron counterpart in XTT assay. These properties show potential for the orthopaedic and dental applications. Copyright 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.