This work describes the preparation and properties of hydrogel surface chemistries enabling controlled and well-defined cell adhesion. The hydrogels may be prepared directly on plastic substrates, such as polystyrene slides or dishes, using a quick and experimentally simple photopolymerization process, compatible with photolithographic and microfluidic patterning methods. The intended application for these materials is as substrates for diagnostic cell adhesion assays, particularly for the analysis of human platelet function. The non-specific adsorption of fibrinogen, a platelet adhesion promoting protein, is shown to be completely inhibited by the hydrogel, provided that the film thickness is sufficient (>5 nm). This allows the hydrogel to be used as a matrix for presenting selected bioactive ligands without risking interference from non-specifically adsorbed platelet adhesion factors, even in undiluted whole blood and blood plasma. This concept is demonstrated by preparing patterns of proteins on hydrogel surfaces, resulting in highly controlled platelet adhesion. Further insights into the protein immobilization and platelet adhesion processes are provided by studies using imaging surface plasmon resonance. The hydrogel surfaces used in this work appear to provide an ideal platform for cell adhesion studies of platelets, and potentially also for other cell types.