Type I collagen provides a structural framework for connective tissues and plays a central role in the temporal cascade of events leading to the formation of new bone from progenitors. The aim of this study was to examine the ability of the cell-binding domain of type I collagen (P-15 peptide) to promote human bone marrow stromal cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation on three-dimensional scaffolds. Human bone marrow stromal cells were selected, expanded, and cultured on particulate microporous ABM ("pure" hydroxyapatite) phase adsorbed with or without P-15 under basal or osteogenic conditions. Immobilized P-15 increased alkaline phosphatase activity and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) gene expression after 1 and 5 days as determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. P-15 promoted human bone marrow stromal cell attachment, spreading, and alignment on ABM as well as alkaline phosphatase-specific activity in basal and osteogenic cultures. The presence of mineralized bone matrix, extensive cell ingrowth, and cellular bridging between three-dimensional matrices adsorbed with P-15 was confirmed by confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and alizarin red staining. Negligible cell growth was observed on ABM alone. In vivo diffusion chamber studies using MF1-nu/nu mice showed bone matrix formation and organized collagen formation after 6 weeks. These studies indicate the potential of P-15 to generate appropriate biomimetic microenvironments for osteoblasts and demonstrate the potential for the exploitation of extracellular matrix cues for osteogenesis and, ultimately, bone regeneration.