Although total hip arthroplasty is a common and highly successful procedure, its long-term durability has been undermined by the cellular response to polyethylene wear debris and the subsequent effects on periprosthetic bone. Research elucidating the effects of sterilization on polyethylene wear has facilitated the development of a more wear-resistant material-highly cross-linked polyethylene. Laboratory testing has demonstrated that highly cross-linked polyethylene has markedly improved wear resistance compared with conventional polyethylene under a variety of conditions. Early clinical data have supported these results. To make informed decisions about this already widely available and frequently used product, the practicing orthopaedic surgeon should have a basic understanding of the production process as well as knowledge of the most current laboratory and clinical data.