We investigated the hypothesis that exogenous collagen cross-linking can augment intact regions of tendon to mitigate mechanical propagation of partial tears. We first screened the low toxicity collagen cross-linkers genipin, methylglyoxal and ultra-violet (UV) light for their ability to augment tendon stiffness and failure load in rat tail tendon fascicles (RTTF). We then investigated cross-linking effects in load bearing equine superficial digital flexor tendons (SDFT). Data indicated that all three cross-linking agents augmented RTTF mechanical properties but reduced native viscoelasticity. In contrast to effects observed in fascicles, methylglyoxal treatment of SDFT detrimentally affected tendon mechanical integrity, and in the case of UV did not alter tendon mechanics. As in the RTTF experiments, genipin cross-linking of SDFT resulted in increased stiffness, higher failure loads and reduced viscoelasticity. Based on this result we assessed the efficacy of genipin in arresting tendon tear propagation in cyclic loading to failure. Genipin cross-linking secondary to a mid-substance biopsy-punch significantly reduced tissue strains, increased elastic modulus and increased resistance to fatigue failure. We conclude that genipin cross-linking of injured tendons holds potential for arresting tendon tear progression, and that implications of the treatment on matrix remodeling in living tendons should now be investigated. © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res.