Pomegranate is a rich source of polyphenols, which are believed to be responsible for the oestrogenic activities of extracts of this fruit in mice. One of these potential activities is the prevention of bone loss. The objectives of the present study were to determine the effects of pomegranate extract on chondrogenesis and osteogenesis in mouse embryos in vivo and limb bud cultures in vitro. A total of fifty pregnant Balb/c mice were given vehicle, pomegranate juice extract (PJE), pomegranate husk extract (PHE) or a mixture of husk and juice extract (PME). Their embryos were stained with alizarin red S and alcian blue, and the length of the femur, tibia and their ossification zones were measured on day 19 of gestation. Bone Ca content in pregnant mice was also measured. Mice treated with PJE showed an increase in bone Ca content. Dietary supplementation with all extracts significantly increased embryo femur length and osteogenesis index. Mesenchymal cells from fetal limb buds were cultured and exposed to 10, 100, 1000 and 10 000 μg/ml of PJE, PHE or PME. The number of viable cells was greater in cultures exposed to the extracts than in control cultures. The number of cartilage nodules and their diameters were greater in extract-treated cell cultures, a finding which reflected increased cell proliferation and differentiation rates. In conclusion, the findings of the present study suggest that pomegranate is able to enhance bone formation.