Recent advances in regenerative medicine have confirmed the potential to manufacture viable and effective tissue engineering 3D constructs comprising living cells for tissue repair and augmentation. Cell printing has shown promising potential in cell patterning in a number of studies enabling stem cells to be precisely deposited as a blueprint for tissue regeneration guidance. Such manufacturing techniques, however, face a number of challenges including; (i) post-printing cell damage, (ii) proliferation impairment and, (iii) poor or excessive final cell density deposition. The use of hydrogels offers one approach to address these issues given the ability to tune these biomaterials and subsequent application as vectors capable of delivering cell populations and as extrusion pastes. While stem cell-laden hydrogel 3D constructs have been widely established in vitro, clinical relevance, evidenced by in vivo long-term efficacy and clinical application, remains to be demonstrated. This review explores the central features of cell printing, cell-hydrogel properties and cell-biomaterial interactions together with the current advances and challenges in stem cell printing. A key focus is the translational hurdles to clinical application and how in vivo research can reshape and inform cell printing applications for an ageing population. Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.