Tetracyclines have been used extensively as antibiotics and growth promoters in the poultry industry. However, they can inhibit angiogenesis and matrix degradation, both of which are essential for normal growth plate cartilage development. The purpose of this research was to test the ability of several tetracyclines to inhibit cartilage degradation in cultured embryonic chick tibiae. Based on gross observations and biochemical quantitation of collagen release into the media, minocycline, doxycycline, oxytetracycline, and tetracycline inhibited cartilage degradation at 20, 40, 60, and 80 μg ml-1 respectively. Chlortetracycline did not inhibit cartilage degradation at concentrations tested. The ability of the tetracycline derivative to inhibit cartilage degradation was in general related to its hydrophobicity. Since a majority of the cartilage in the embryonic chick tibia will develop into the post hatched growth plate, it may be important to determine if any of the tetracyclines used as antibiotics could cause problems in in vivo growth plate cartilage development.