Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) belong to the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. Their potential for organ and tissue regeneration and repair has been intensively investigated in recent years. Studies on fetal development have demonstrated the important role of these proteins for the development and differentiation of different organs. Miss-expression or mutation of BMPs may lead to severe abnormalities or even abortion. However, a regenerative potential has also been recognized for the adult organism. BMPs support fracture healing and may contribute to treatment of joint diseases. Thus, BMP-7 is one of the first BMPs approved for clinical application in non-unions of bone fractures resistant to conventional therapy. In degenerative and inflammatory joint diseases, experimental data suggest a decrease of BMP expression in cartilage tissue. Therefore, BMPs could be promising therapeutic candidates in these diseases, although more detailed analyses are necessary. In this review we will focus on bone morphogenetic proteins and discuss present and putative future clinical applications.