Articular cartilage is a highly organized tissue lacking self-regeneration capacity upon lesion. Current surgical intervention by application of in vitro-expanded autologous chondrocytes transplantation procedure is associated with several disadvantages, including donor-site morbidity and inferior fibrocartilage formation at the defect site. However, recent advancements in tissue engineering have provided notable strategies for stem cell-based therapies and articular cartilage tissue engineering. In this review, we discuss the current strategies to engineer cartilage tissues from adult stem cells and human embryonic stem cell-derived cells. The characteristics of adult stem cells, the microenvironmental control of cell fate determination, and the limitation imposed by the intrinsic nature of stem cells are discussed. The strategy to commit the stem cells for functional cartilage tissues in vivo is also discussed.