Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the synovial joints causing pain deformities and disability. The highly vascular inflamed synovium has aggressive and destructive characteristics, it invades, erodes and gradually destroys cartilage and underlying bone. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) was performed using the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model to investigate the vitality of synovium and cartilage implanted on the CAM. Synovium, obtained from human patients, was grafted onto the CAM; gross microscopy and histology proved its vitality 7 days post grafting. Cartilage obtained from rabbit knee joint was also maintained on the CAM for 7 days. Its vitality was demonstrated by histology and by measuring metabolic and enzymatic activity of cartilage cells (chondrocytes) as well as the collagen and proteoglycans content. Selective PDT was performed using aluminum phthalocyanine tetrasulfonate (AlPcS4), a hydrophilic compound, soluble in biological solutions, as a photosensitizer. After irradiation with a diode laser (lambda equals 670 nm, 10 mW) damage was observed in vascularized synovium grafts, whereas avascular cartilage remained intact.