Abstract Syngeneic rat chondrocytes isolated from the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex were suspended in hyaluronic acid and transplanted intramuscularly or into joint surface defects. Transplants were fixed in ruthenium hexammonium trichloride and embedded in glycol methacrylate. In cartilage nodules produced intramuscularly, chondrocyte hypertrophy and matrix calcification were observed after 2 wk. Partial ossification occurred after 4 wk and the cartilage was almost completely replaced by an ossicle after 8 wk. Only small, dispersed groups of chondrocytes remained within the ossicle. In cartilage formed in joint surface defects a superficial and a deep zone were distinguished. Chondrocytes in the superficial zone did not hypertrophy and cartilage remained unossified. In the deep zone matrix calcification and bone formation occurred. These processes were, however, retarded in comparison with intramuscular transplants. Thus, either intraarticular environment exerted an inhibitory effect on chondrocyte hypertrophy and matrix calcification or articular chondrocytes present among transplanted cells accumulated close to the joint lumen and reconstructed normal articular cartilage.