Tissue engineering is attempting to recreate the complexity of living tissues. In order to test a variety of scaffolds or cells that are constantly being developed, we describe here a model where tissue engineering of bone in a non-osseous environment at subcutaneous thoracic site of DA rats generates. In this model, cell - matix interactions can mimic the normal cascade of bone development into a well organized ossicle like structure including newly formed bone marrow, during 3-4 weeks. Histogenesis of cartilage, bone and bone marrow is closely related to changes in molecular expression of essential early transcriptional regulators of osteoblast differentiation. We tested different organic, anorganic and polymeric scaffolds and their interaction with mesenchymal stem cells present in fresh bone marrow. In another series of experiments we tested mesenchymal populations separated from cultures of calvaria and periosteum for their ability to form bone in the same rat model. It is concluded that this in vivo model is very potent in studying cell-scaffold interactions affecting the temporal and spatial tissue engineering of bone.