The effect of cell density on the adipogenic differentiation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) was investigated by using a patterning technique to induce the formation of a cell density gradient on a micropatterned surface. The adipogenic differentiation of MSCs at a density gradient from 5 x 10(3) to 3 x 10(4) cells/cm2 was examined. Lipid vacuoles were observed at all cell densities after 1-3 weeks of culture in adipogenic differentiation medium although the lipid vacuoles were scarce at the low cell density and abundant at the high cell density. Real-time RT-PCR analysis showed that adipogenesis marker genes encoding peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma2 (PPARgamma2), lipoprotein lipase (LPL), and fatty acid binding protein-4 (FABP4) were detected in the MSCs cultured at all cell densities. The results suggest that there was no apparent effect of cell density on the adipogenic differentiation of human MSCs.