Chitosan scaffolds were prepared by freeze-drying method and modified with Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence of fibronectin or epidermal growth factor (EGF) by covalent immobilization. The results obtained from FTIR-ATR, fluorescence visualization and quantitative measurements showed that biosignal molecules, RGD and EGF, were successfully immobilized on chitosan scaffolds. ATDC5 murine chondrogenic cells were seeded on both type of scaffolds, chitosan-RGD and chitosan-EGF, and cultured for 28 days in stationary conditions. According to the results of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazoliumbromide (MTT) test, considerable increase in cell proliferation was only detected on chitosan-EGF scaffolds. Biochemical analysis of the chondrocyte seeded scaffolds showed that glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content of the scaffolds increases with time. In conclusion, EGF-modified chitosan scaffolds (containing 1.83 mu g EGF/3 mg dry scaffold) have been proposed to promote chondrogenesis and to have potential for reticular cartilage regeneration. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.