The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of proteoglycans synthesized by canine annulus fibrosus cells expanded in number in monolayer culture through passage 4 and subsequently grown in a type I collagen-glycosaminoglycan matrix to be employed for tissue engineering. Newly synthesized [35S]sulfate-labeled proteoglycans were analyzed by gel chromatography, including sequential digestion with enzymes and nitrous acid. After 1 week in culture, the percentage of cell-associated, aggregated proteoglycans synthesized in type I collagen-glycosaminoglycan matrices was 52% compared with 38% by the cells in monolayer. The percentage of aggregated proteoglycan in each group increased only slightly with the addition of exogenous hyaluronic acid, but remained significantly different from each other. There were at least three different hydrodynamic sizes of proteoglycans both in the collagen-glycosaminoglycan matrix and in monolayer; the average size was larger in the collagen matrices and the glycosaminoglycan chains were longer. The proteoglycans contained chondroitin sulfate, dermatan sulfate, heparan sulfate, and keratan sulfate. The results provide a foundation for future investigations of collagen-glycosaminoglycan matrices for intervertebral disc tissue engineering.