Trauma to the articular cartilage surface of the joint represents a challenging clinical problem due to the very limited ability of this tissue to self-repair. Moreover, repair techniques such as microfracture, which introduce cells into the joint, have unpredictable clinical outcomes as they produce a fibrocartilage tissue that degenerates with time. Alternative treatments include tissue reconstruction with autograft and allograft tissue. However, these procedures are restricted by the availability of suitable donor tissue. These limitations have been the driving force behind the emerging field of articular cartilage tissue engineering. This paper will highlight and contrast the key challenges associated with the tissue engineering of this neo-tissue using differentiated adult cells. The various components of the tissue engineering process will be described including the choice of donor cell/tissue type and the selection of scaffolds that guide the formation of tissue. The ability of the tissue engineered implants to stimulate the repair of defects in vivo will also be discussed. Tissue engineering approaches may, in the future, provide an ideal alternative to the current surgical treatments for cartilage repair.