New and used polypropylene tailstrings from the Copper 7 (Cu-7) intrauterine device were examined by a combination of analytical techniques. Optical microscopy, scanning acoustic and electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, energy dispersive x-ray analysis, and chemical etching were employed to elucidate both the surface and interior morphology of new Cu-7 tailstrings. Tailstrings removed from women following varying periods of use were investigated with optical microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. In addition, a subset of the used tailstrings were cultured to identify the types of microorganisms associated with them. Our findings show that unused Cu-7 tailstrings are in various stages of degradation owing to a combination of factors which include the high-draw ratio employed during manufacturing, the method of packaging, and the use of a particulate colourant. Furthermore, it is evident that used Cu-7 tailstrings undergo major deterioration while in situ because of the unfavorable interactions between the highly drawn polypropylene and the physiological environment. These results indicate that the polypropylene tailstrings as manufactured for use with the Cu-7 IUD fail to meet accepted design criteria for biomedical implants.