A method of tissue digestion using sodium hydroxide was applied to the isolation and recovery of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) particles from tissues around failed total hip replacements. Density gradient ultracentrifugation of the digested tissues was performed to separate the UHMWPE from cell debris and other particulates. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) verified that the recovered particles were UHMWPE. When viewed by scanning electron microscopy, individual particles were clearly observed and were either rounded or elongated. The majority were submicron in size. The application of this method to the study of particles from periprosthetic tissues may elucidate aspects of biomaterial particle size and shape that are important to the biologic response to, and clinical outcome of, total joint replacement.