A spectrum of materials for biomedical applications is produced in bacteria, and some of them, such as metals or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are straightforwardly obtained as particulate entities. We have explored the biofabrication process of bacterial inclusion bodies, particulate proteinaceous materials (ranging from 50 to 500nm in diameter) recently recognized as suitable for surface topographical modification and tissue engineering. Inclusion bodies have been widely described as spherical or pseudo-spherical particles with only minor morphological variability, mostly restricted to their size. Here we have identified a cellular gene in Escherichia coli (clpP) that controls the in vivo fabrication process of inclusion bodies. In the absence of the encoded protease, the dynamics of protein deposition is perturbed, resulting in unusual tear-shaped particles with enhanced surface-volume ratios. This fact modifies the ability of inclusion bodies to promote mammalian cell attachment and differentiation upon surface decoration. The implications of the genetic control of inclusion body geometry are discussed in the context of their biological fabrication and regarding the biomedical potential of these protein clusters in regenerative medicine. © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd.