BACKGROUND: Currently, acellular dermal substitutes used for skin reconstruction are usually covered with split-thickness skin grafts. The goal of this study was to develop an animal model in which such dermal substitutes can be tested under standardized conditions using a bioengineered dermo-epidermal skin graft for coverage. METHODS: Bioengineered grafts consisting of collagen type I hydrogels with incorporated human fibroblasts and human keratinocytes seeded on these gels were produced. Two different dermal substitutes, namely Matriderm(®), and an acellular collagen type I hydrogel, were applied onto full-thickness skin wounds created on the back of immuno-incompetent rats. As control, no dermal substitute was used. As coverage for the dermal substitutes either the bioengineered grafts were used, or, as controls, human split-thickness skin or neonatal rat epidermis were used. Grafts were excised 21 days post-transplantation. Histology and immunofluorescence was performed to investigate survival, epidermis formation, and vascularization of the grafts. RESULTS: The bioengineered grafts survived on all tested dermal substitutes. Epidermis formation and vascularization were comparable to the controls. CONCLUSION: We could successfully use human bioengineered grafts to test different dermal substitutes. This novel model can be used to investigate newly designed dermal substitutes in detail and in a standardized way.