To date, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from various tissues have been reported, but the yield and differentiation potential of different tissue-derived MSCs is still not clear. This study was undertaken in an attempt to investigate the multilineage stem cell potential of bone and cartilage explant cultures in comparison with bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs). The results showed that the surface antigen expression of tissue-derived cells was consistent with that of mesenchymal stem cells, such as lacking the hematopoietic and common leukocyte markers (CD34, CD45) while expressing markers related to adhesion (CD29, CD166) and stem cells (CD90, CD105). The tissue-derived cells were able to differentiate into osteoblast, chondrocyte and adipocyte lineage pathways when stimulated in the appropriate differentiating conditions. However, compared with BMSCs, tissue-derived cells showed less capacity for multilineage differentiation when the level of differentiation was assessed in monolayer culture by analysing the expression of tissuespecific genes by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and histology. In high density pellet cultures, tissue-derived cells were able to differentiate into chondrocytes, expressing chondrocyte markers such as proteoglycans, type II collagen and aggrecan. Taken together, these results indicate that cells derived from tissue explant cultures reserved certain degree of differentiation properties of MSCs in vitro.