Currently, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are considered as the most eligible cells for skeletal tissue engineering. However, factors such as difficult stimulation and control of differentiation in vivo hamper their clinical use. In contrast, periosteum or periosteum-derived cells (PCs) are routinely clinically applied for bone and cartilage repair. PCs have often been named MSCs but, although cells of osteochondrogenic lineages arise from MSCs, it is unclear whether periosteum really contains MSCs. Our aim was to investigate the MSC-like character of PCs derived from the periosteum of mastoid bone. Harvesting of periosteum from mastoid bone is easy, so mastoid represents a good source for the isolation of PCs. Therefore, we analysed the MSC-like growth behaviour and the expression of embryonic, ectodermal, endodermal and mesodermal markers by microarray and FACS technology, and the multilineage developmental capacity of human PCs. Regarding clinical relevance, experiments were performed in human serum-supplemented medium. We show that PCs do not express early embryonic stem cell markers such as Oct4 and Nanog, or the marker of haematopoietic stem cells CD34, but express some other MSC markers. Osteogenesis resulted in the formation of calcified matrix, increased alkaline phosphatase activity, and induction of the osteogenic marker gene osteocalcin. Staining of proteoglycans and deposition of type II collagen documented chondrogenic development. As shown for the first time, adipogenic stimulation of mastoid-derived PCs resulted in the formation of lipid droplets and expression of the adipogenic marker genes aP2 and APM1. These results suggest MSC-like PCs from mastoid as candidates for therapy of complex skeletal defects.