Tissue engineered human oral mucosa has the potential to be applied to the closure of surgical wounds after tissue deficits due to facial trauma, malignant lesion surgery or preposthetic procedure. It can also be used to elucidate the biology and pathology of oral mucosa and as a model alternative to animals for safety testing of oral care products. Using the technology previously developed in our laboratory for the production of a skin equivalent, we were able to reconstruct a nonkeratinized full-thickness human oral mucosal equivalent closely mimicking human native oral mucosa. The successive coculture of human lamina propria fibroblasts and human oral epithelial cells isolated from the nonkeratinized region of oral cavity in a porous collagen-glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-chitosan scaffold gave rise to a lamina propria equivalent (LPE) and then to an oral mucosa equivalent (OME). The results of the histology, immunohistology and transmission electron microscopy of this OME demonstrated the presence of a nonkeratinized pluristratified and differentiated epithelium as in native nonkeratinized human oral mucosa expressing both K13 and K3/76. This epithelium was firmly anchored to the LPE by a continuous and ultrastructurally well-organized basement membrane. In the LPE, fibroblasts synthesized new extracellular matrix where the average collagen fibre diameter was 28.4 nm, close to that of native oral mucosa. The proliferative capacity of the basal cells was demonstrated by the expression of Ki67. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.