Increased use of titanium alloys as biomaterials is occurring due to their lower modulus, superior biocompatibility and enhanced corrosion resistance when compared to more conventional stainless steels and cobalt-based alloys. These attractive properties were a driving force for the early introduction of alpha (cpTi) and alpha + beta (Ti-6A1-4V) alloys as well as for the more recent development of new Ti-alloy compositions and orthopaedic metastable beta titanium alloys. The later possess enhanced biocompatibility, reduced elastic modulus, and superior strain-controlled and notch fatigue resistance. However, the poor shear strength and wear resistance of titanium alloys have nevertheless limited their biomedical use. Although the wear resistance of beta-Ti alloys has shown some improvement when compared to alpha + beta alloys, the ultimate utility of orthopaedic titanium alloys as wear components will require a more complete fundamental understanding of the wear mechanisms involved. This review examines current information on the physical and mechanical characteristics of titanium alloys used in artifical joint replacement prostheses, with a special focus on those issues associated with the long-term prosthetic requirements, e.g., fatigue and wear.