Articular cartilage provides life-long weight-bearing and mechanical lubrication with extraordinary biomechanical performance and simple structure. However, articular cartilage is apparently vulnerable to multifactorial damage and insufficient to self-repair, isolated in articular capsule without nerves or blood vessels. Osteoarthritis (OA) is known as a degenerative articular cartilage deficiency progressively affecting large proportion of the world population, and restoration of hyaline cartilage is clinical challenge to repair articular cartilage lesion and recreate normal functionality over long period. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are highly proliferative and multipotent somatic cells that are able to differentiate mesoderm-derived cells including chondrocytes and osteoblasts. Continuous endeavors in basic research and preclinical trial have achieved promising outcomes in cartilage regeneration using MSCs. This review focuses on rationale and technologies of MSC-based hyaline cartilage repair involving tissue engineering, 3D biomaterials and growth factors. By comparing conventional treatment and current research progress, we describe insights of advantage and challenge in translation and application of MSC-based chondrogenesis for OA treatment.