The effect of freezing on the viability and mechanical properties of tissue-equivalents (TEs) was determined under a variety of cooling conditions, with the ultimate aim of optimizing the cryopreservation process. TEs (a class of bioartificial tissues) were prepared by incubating entrapped human foreskin fibroblasts in collagen gels for a period of 2 weeks. TEs were detached from the substrate and frozen in phosphate-buffered saline using a controlled rate freezer (CRF) at various cooling rates (0.5, 2, 5, 20, and 40°C/min to -80 or -160°C) or in a directional solidification stage (DSS) (5°C/min to -80°C) or slam frozen (>1000°C/min). Viability of the fibroblasts in the TEs was assessed by ethidium homodimer and Hoechst assays immediately after thawing. Uniaxial tension experiments were also performed on an MTS (Eden Prairie, MN) Micro Bionix system to assess the postthaw mechanical properties of the frozen-thawed TEs. Cooling rates of either 2 or 5°C/min using the CRF were optimal for preserving both immediate cell viability and mechanical properties of the TEs, postthaw. By 72 h postthaw, TEs frozen in the CRF at 5°C/min to -80°C showed a slight decrease in cell viability, with a significant increase in tangent modulus and ultimate tensile stress suggesting a cell-mediated recovery mechanism. Both the postthaw mechanical properties and cell viability are adversely affected by freezing to the lower end temperature of -160°C. Mechanical properties are adversely affected by freezing in the DSS.