As the populations of the Western world become older, they will suffer more and more from bone defects related to osteoporosis (non-union fractures, vertebral damages), cancers (malignant osteolysis) and infections (osteomyelitis). Autografts are usually used to fill these defects, but they have several drawbacks such as morbidity at the donor site and the amount and quality of bone that can be harvested. Recent scientific milestones made in biomaterials development were shown to be promising to overcome these limitations. Cell interactions with biomaterials can be improved by adding at their surface functional groups such as adhesive peptides and/or growth factors. The development of such biomimetic materials able to control bone cell responses can only proceed if it is based on a sound understanding of bone cell behavior and regulation. This review focuses on bone physiology and the regulation of bone cell differentiation and function, and how the latest advances in biomimetic materials can be translated within promising clinical outcomes.