For the repair of bone defects, a tissue engineering approach would be to combine cells capable of osteogenic (i.e. bone-forming) activity with an appropriate scaffolding material to stimulate bone regeneration and repair. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), when combined with hydroxyapatite/beta-tricalcium phosphate (HA/TCP) ceramic scaffolds of the composition 60% HA/40% TCP (in weight %), have been shown to induce bone formation in large, long bone defects. However, full repair or function of the long bone could be limited due to the poor remodeling of the HA/TCP material. We conducted a study designed to determine the optimum ratio of HA to TCP that promoted hMSC induced bone formation yet be fully degradable. In a mouse ectopic model, by altering the composition of HA/TCP to 20% HA/80% TCP, hMSC bone induction occurred at the fastest rate in vivo over the other formulations of the more stable 100% HA, HA/TCP (76/24, 63/37, 56/44), and the fully degradable, 100% TCP. In vitro studies also demonstrated that 20/80 HA/TCP stimulated the osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs as determined by the expression of osteocalcin.