In 6 patients the potency of bone tissue engineering to reconstruct jaw defects was tested. After a bone marrow aspirate was taken, stem cells were cultured, expanded and grown for 7 days on a bone substitute in an osteogenic culture medium to allow formation of a layer of extracellular bone matrix. At the end of the procedure, this viable bone substitute was not only re-implanted in the patient, but also simultaneously subcutaneously implanted in mice to prove its osteogenic potency. In all patients, a viable bone substitute was successfully constructed, which was proven by bone formation after subcutaneous implantation in mice (ectopic bone formation). However, the same construct was reluctant to form bone in patients with intra-oral osseous defects (orthotopic bone formation). Although biopsies, taken 4 months after reconstructing the intra-oral bone defect, showed bone formation in 3 patients, only in 1 patient bone formation was induced by the tissue-engineered construct. Although bone tissue engineering has proven its value in animal studies, extra effort is needed to make it a predictable method for reconstruction jaw defects in humans. To judge its benefit, it is important to differentiate between bone formation induced by cells from the border of the osseous defect (osteoconduction) in relation to bone matrix produced by the implanted cells (osteogenesis).