For clinical applications of cells and tissue engineering products it is of importance to characterize the quality of the used cells in detail. Progenitor cells from the periosteum are already routinely applied in the clinics for the regeneration of the maxillary bone. Periosteal cells have, in addition to their potential to differentiate into bone, the ability to develop into cartilage and fat. However, the question arises whether all cells isolated from periosteal biopsies are able to differentiate into all three tissue types, or whether there are subpopulations. For an efficient and approved application in bone or cartilage regeneration the clarification of this question is of interest. Therefore, 83 different clonal cultures of freshly isolated human periosteal cells derived from mastoid periosteum biopsies of 4 donors were generated and growth rates calculated. Differentiation capacities of 51 clonal cultures towards the osteogenic, the chondrogenic, and the adipogenic lineage were investigated. Histological and immunochemical stainings showed that 100% of the clonal cultures differentiated towards the osteogenic lineage, while 94.1% demonstrated chondrogenesis, and 52.9% could be stimulated to adipogenesis. For osteogenesis real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of BGLAP and RUNX2 and for adipogenesis of FABP4 and PPARG confirmed the results. Overall, 49% of the cells exhibited a tripotent potential, 45.1% showed a bipotent potential (without adipogenic differentiation), 3.9% bipotent (without chondrogenic differentiation), and 2% possessed a unipotent osteogenic potential. In FACS analyses, no differences in the marker profile of undifferentiated clonal cultures with bi- and tripotent differentiation capacity were found. Genome-wide microarray analysis revealed 52 differentially expressed genes for clonal subpopulations with or without chondrogenic differentiation capacity, among them DCN, NEDD9, TGFBR3, and TSLP. For clinical applications of periosteal cells in bone regeneration all cells were inducible. For a chondrogenic application a fraction of 6% of the mixed population could not be induced.