Modular cardiac tissues developed both vascular and cardiac structures in vivo, provided that the host response was attenuated by omitting xenoproteins from the modules. Collagen gel modules (with Matrigel(TM)) containing cardiomyocytes (CMs) alone or CMs with surface-seeded endothelial cells (ECs; CM/EC modules) were injected into the peri-infarct zone of the heart in syngeneic Lewis rats. After 3 weeks, donor ECs developed into blood vessel-like structures that also contained erythrocytes. However, no donor CMs were found within the implant sites, presumably because host cells including macrophages and T cells infiltrated extensively into the injection sites. To lessen the host response, Matrigel was omitted from the matrix and the modules were rinsed with serum-free medium prior to implantation. Host cell infiltration was attenuated, resulting in a higher degree of vascularization with CM/EC modules than with CM modules without ECs. Most importantly, donor CMs matured into striated muscle-like structures in Matrigel-free implants.