Cartilage implants which could potentially be used to resurface damaged joints were created using rabbit articular chondrocytes and synthetic, biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Cells were serially passaged and then cultured in vitro on fibrous polyglycolic acid (PGA) scaffolds. Cell-PGA constructs were implanted in vivo as allografts to repair 3-mm diameter, full thickness defects in the knee joints of adult rabbits, and cartilage repair was assessed histologically over 6 months. In vitro, chondrocytes proliferated on PGA and regenerated cartilaginous matrix. Collagen and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) represented 20 to 8% of the implant dry weight (dw), respectively, at the time of in vivo implantation; the remainder was PGA and unspecified components. Implants based on passaged chondrocytes had 1.7-times as much GAG and 2.6-times as much collagen as those based on primary chondrocytes. In vivo, cartilaginous repair tissue was observed after implantation of PGA both with and without cultured chondrocytes. Six month repair was qualitatively better for cell-PGA allografts than for PGA alone, with respect to: 1) surface smoothness, 2) columnar alignment of chondrocytes, 3) spatially uniform GAG distribution, 4) reconstitution of the subchondral plate, and 5) bonding of the repair tissue to the underlying bone. These pilot studies demonstrate that it is feasible to use cell-polymer allografts for joint resurfacing in vivo.