The purpose of this study was to investigate adhesion, proliferation and type I collagen (COL I) mRNA expression of gingival fibroblasts on different membranes used in periodontal applications. Collagen (C), acellular dermal matrix (ADM) and polylactic acid; polyglycolic acid; lactide/glycolide copolymer (PLGA) biodegradable membranes were combined with gingival fibroblasts in culture and incubated for 48 h. Cell adhesion was examined with scanning electron and confocal microscopy. MTT assay was used to measure proliferation. COL I mRNA expression was assessed using quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (QPCR). The PLGA group exhibited the lowest cell survival on day 5 and 10, and lowest cell proliferation on days 5, 10 and 14. While cell proliferation was similar in C and ADM groups, the C membrane showed a slightly greater increase in viable cells to day 10. Confocal and scanning electron microscopy confirmed the results of proliferation and MTT assays. The highest COL I mRNA expression was noted in the PLGA membrane group when compared to the C (p<0.01) and ADM (p<0.05) membrane groups. These data revealed that adherence and proliferation of primary gingival fibroblasts on collagen-based C and ADM membranes is better than that seen with PLGA membranes, and thus may be preferable in the treatment of gingival recession defects.