Various bioactive glass/hydroxyapatite (HA) functional coatings were designed by the suspension plasma spraying (SPS) technique. Their microstructure, scratch resistance, and apatite-forming ability in a simulated body fluid (SBF) were compared. The functional coatings design included: (i) composite coating, that is, randomly distributed constituent phases; (ii) duplex coating with glass top layer onto HA layer; and (iii) graded coating with a gradual changing composition starting from pure HA at the interface with the metal substrate up to pure glass on the surface. The SPS was a suitable coating technique to produce all the coating designs. The SBF tests revealed that the presence of a pure glass layer on the working surface significantly improved the reactivity of the duplex and graded coatings, but the duplex coating suffered a relatively low scratch resistance because of residual stresses. The graded coating therefore provided the best compromise between mechanical reliability and apatite-forming ability in SBF. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 102B: 551–560, 2014.