Blood contact with biomaterials triggers activation of multiple reactive mechanisms that can impair the performance of implantable medical devices and potentially cause serious adverse clinical events. This includes thrombosis and thromboembolic complications due to activation of platelets and the coagulation cascade, activation of the complement system, and inflammation. Numerous surface coatings have been developed to improve blood compatibility of biomaterials. For more than thirty years, the anticoagulant drug heparin has been employed as a covalently immobilized surface coating on a variety of medical devices. This review describes the fundamental principles of non-eluting heparin coatings, mechanisms of action, and clinical applications with focus on those technologies which have been commercialized. Because of its extensive publication history, there is emphasis on the CARMEDA® BioActive Surface (CBAS® Heparin Surface), a widely used commercialized technology for the covalent bonding of heparin.