Abstract Hyaline cartilage serves as a low-friction and wear-resistant articulating surface in load-bearing, diarthrodial joints. Unfortunately, as the avascular, alymphatic nature of cartilage significantly impedes the body’s natural ability to regenerate, damage resulting from trauma and osteoarthritis necessitates repair attempts. Current clinical methods are generally limited in their ability to regenerate functional cartilage, and so research in recent years has focused on tissue engineering solutions in which the regeneration of cartilage is pursued through combinations of cells (e.g., chondrocytes or stem cells) paired with scaffolds (e.g., hydrogels, sponges, and meshes) in conjunction with stimulatory growth factors and bioreactors. A variety of synthetic and natural materials have been employed, most commonly in the form of hydrogels, and these systems have been tuned for optimal nutrient diffusion, connectivity of deposited matrix, degradation, soluble factor delivery, and mechanical loading for enhanced matrix production and organization. Even with these promising advances, the complex mechanical properties and biochemical composition of native cartilage have not been achieved, and engineering cartilage tissue still remains a significant challenge. Using hyaluronic acid hydrogels as an example, this review will follow the progress of material design specific to cartilage tissue engineering and propose possible future directions for the field.