The skeleton is a single organ composed of >200 different elements spread throughout the body. These skeletal elements comprise two tissues: cartilage and bone. Both tissues contain specific cell type(s): chondrocytes in cartilage and osteoblasts and osteoclasts in bone. We are beginning to understand the genetic control of the differentiation and function of these cells through recent developments in mouse and human genetics, and also through the use of molecular biological and biochemical techniques. The most recent advances in terms of cell differentiation in the skeleton are presented in this review.