Wear particles released from prosthetic components are implicated in their subsequent loosening. This study deals with the retrieval and characterization of wear particles from tissues interfacing failed total hip replacement (THR) prostheses and bone. The recovered particles were identified and characterized using electron microscopy, microchemical spectroscopic techniques and particle size analysis. The majority of the particles retrieved from the interfacial tissues were submicron polyethylene with a mean size of 0. 53 ± 0.3 μm. Relatively few titanium particles were seen. Characterizations detailed in this study should guide studies to assess the role of particulate debris in clinical failure of joint replacements.