In this laboratory study, the microtensile bond strengths of a conventional glass ionomer cement (GIC) and a resin modified glass ionomer cement (CRMGIC) to artificially created carious dentin and sound dentin were compared, and the ultrastructural morphology of the fractured interface was examined with a low-vacuum scanning electron microscope (SEM). The specimens were divided into 4 groups: 1) a conventional GIC (Ketac-Fil Plus Aplicap) placed on sound dentin; 2) a conventional GIC placed on artificially created carious dentin; 3) an RMGIC (Photac-Fil Aplicap) placed on sound dentin and 4) an RMGIC placed on artificially created carious dentin. Artificial carious lesions were created using a chemical demineralizing solution of 0.1 M/L lactic acid and 0.2% carbopol. GIC buildups were made on the dentin surfaces according to the manufacturer's directions. After storage in distilled water at 37 degrees C for 24 hours, the teeth were sectioned vertically into 1 x 1 x 8-mm beams for the microtensile bond strength test. The microtensile bond strength of each specimen was measured, and failure mode was determined using an optical microscope (40x). The fractured surfaces were further examined with SEM. Two-way analysis of variance showed that the mean microtensile bond strengths of a GIC and an RMGIC to carious dentin were significantly lower than those to sound dentin, and the mean microtensile bond strengths of Photac-Fil to both sound and carious dentin were significantly higher than those of Ketac-Fil Plus. Chi-square tests indicated that there was a significant difference in failure mode between the sound dentin and carious dentin groups. In sound dentin groups, cohesive failure in GIC was pre- dominant; whereas, mixed failure was predominant in carious dentin groups. SEM examination showed that the specimens determined to be cohesive failures under light microscopy in the Photac-Fil/Sound Dentin group were actually mixed failures under high magnification of SEM.