Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent and have the ability to differentiate into mineralising cells in vitro. The use of pluripotent cells in engineered bone substitutes will benefit from the development of bioactive scaffolds which encourage cell differentiation and tissue development. Extracellular matrix (ECM) may be a suitable candidate for use in such scaffolds since it plays an active role in cellular differentiation. Here, we test the hypothesis that tissue-specific ECM influences the differentiation of murine ESCs. We induced murine ESCs to differentiate by embryoid body formation, followed by dissociation and culture on ECM prepared by decellularisation of either osteogenic cell (MC3T3-E1) or non-osteogenic cell (A549) cultures, or on defined collagen type I matrix. We assessed osteogenic differentiation by formation of mineralised tissue and osteogenic gene expression, and found it to be significantly greater on MC3T3-E1 matrices than on any other matrix. The osteogenic effect of MC3T3-E1 matrix was reduced by heat treatment and abolished by trypsin, suggesting a bioactive proteinaceous component. These results demonstrate that decellularised bone-specific ECM promotes the osteogenic differentiation of ESCs. Our results are of fundamental interest and may help in tailoring scaffolds for tissue engineering applications which both incorporate tissue-specific ECM signals and stimulate stem-cell differentiation.