Polymeric biomaterials are being widely used for the treatment of various traumata, diseases and defects in human beings due to ease in their synthesis. As biomaterials have direct interaction with the extracellular environment in the biological world, biocompatibility is a topic of great significance. The introduction or enhancement of biocompatibility in certain polymers is still a challenge to overcome. Polymer biocompatibility can be controlled by surface modification. Various physical and chemical methods (e.g., chemical and plasma treatment, ion implantation, and ultraviolet irradiation etc.) are in use or being developed for the modification of polymer surfaces. However an important limitation in their employment is the alteration of bulk material. Different surface and bulk properties of biomaterials are often desirable for biomedical applications. Because extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation penetration is quite limited even in low density mediums, it could be possible to use it for surface modification without influencing the bulk material. This article reviews the degree of biocompatibility of different polymeric biomaterials being currently employed in various biomedical applications, the surface properties required to be modified for biocompatibility control, plasma and laser ablation based surface modification techniques, and research studies indicating possible use of EUV for enhancing biocompatibility. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 3298–3310, 2014.