Abstract Injectable, biodegradable scaffolds are important biomaterials for tissue engineering and drug delivery. Hydrogels derived from natural polysaccharides are ideal scaffolds as they resemble the extracellular matrices of tissues comprised of various glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Here, we report a new class of biocompatible and biodegradable composite hydrogels derived from water-soluble chitosan and oxidized hyaluronic acid upon mixing, without the addition of a chemical crosslinking agent. The gelation is attributed to the Schiff base reaction between amino and aldehyde groups of polysaccharide derivatives. In the current work, N-succinyl-chitosan (S-CS) and aldehyde hyaluronic acid (A-HA) were synthesized for preparation of the composite hydrogels. The polysaccharide derivatives and composite hydrogels were characterized by FTIR spectroscopy. The effect of the ratio of S-CS and A-HA on the gelation time, microstructure, surface morphology, equilibrium swelling, compressive modulus, and in vitro degradation of composite hydrogels was examined. The potential of the composite hydrogel as an injectable scaffold was demonstrated by the encapsulation of bovine articular chondrocytes within the composite hydrogel matrix in vitro. The results demonstrated that the composite hydrogel supported cell survival and the cells retained chondrocytic morphology. These characteristics provide a potential opportunity to use the injectable, composite hydrogels in tissue engineering applications.