The concept of biomaterials has evolved from one of inert mechanical supports with a long-term, biologically inactive role in the body into complex matrices that exhibit selective cell binding, promote proliferation and matrix production, and may ultimately become replaced by newly generated tissues in vivo. Functionalization of material surfaces with biomolecules is critical to their ability to evade immunorecognition, interact productively with surrounding tissues and extracellular matrix, and avoid bacterial colonization. Antibody molecules and their derived fragments are commonly immobilized on materials to mediate coating with specific cell types in fields such as stent endothelialization and drug delivery. The incorporation of growth factors into biomaterials has found application in promoting and accelerating bone formation in osteogenerative and related applications. Peptides and extracellular matrix proteins can impart biomolecule- and cell-specificities to materials while antimicrobial peptides have found roles in preventing biofilm formation on devices and implants. In this progress report, we detail developments in the use of diverse proteins and peptides to modify the surfaces of hard biomaterials in vivo and in vitro. Chemical approaches to immobilizing active biomolecules are presented, as well as platform technologies for isolation or generation of natural or synthetic molecules suitable for biomaterial functionalization.