Mechanical stimuli can improve bone function by promoting the proliferation and differentiation of bone cells and osteoblasts. As precursors of osteoblasts, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are sensitive to mechanical stimuli. In recent years, fluid shear stress (FSS) has been widely used as a method of mechanical stimulation in bone tissue engineering to induce the osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs. However, the mechanism of this differentiation is not completely clear. Several signaling pathways are involved in the mechanotransduction of hMSCs responding to FSS, such as MAPK, NO/cGMP/PKG and Ca(2+) signaling pathway. Here, we briefly review how hMSCs respond to fluid flow stimuli and focus on the signal molecules involved in this mechanotransduction.