A nanoscale modification strategy that can incorporate chondroitin sulfate (CS) into the cross-linked porous gelatin materials has previously been proposed to give superior performance for designed corneal keratocyte scaffolds. The purpose of this work was to further investigate the influence of carbodiimide chemistry on the characteristics and biofunctionalities of gelatin/CS scaffolds treated with varying N
-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS)/1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) molar ratios (0-1) at a constant EDC concentration of 10 mM. Results of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and dimethylmethylene blue assays consistently indicated that when the NHS to EDC molar ratio exceeds a critical level (i.e
., 0.5), the efficiency of carbodiimide-mediated biomaterial modification is significantly reduced. With the optimum NHS/EDC molar ratio of 0.5, chemical treatment could achieve relatively high CS content in the gelatin scaffolds, thereby enhancing the water content, glucose permeation, and fibronectin adsorption. Live/Dead assays and interleukin-6 mRNA expression analyses demonstrated that all the test samples have good cytocompatibility without causing toxicity and inflammation. In the molar ratio range of NHS to EDC from 0 to 0.5, the cell adhesion ratio and proliferation activity on the chemically modified samples significantly increased, which is attributed to the increasing CS content. Additionally, the materials with highest CS content (0.143 ± 0.007 nmol/10 mg scaffold) showed the greatest stimulatory effect on the biosynthetic activity of cultivated keratocytes. These findings suggest that a positive correlation is noticed between the NHS to EDC molar ratio and the CS content in the biopolymer matrices, thereby greatly affecting the corneal stromal cell growth.