In this study, we developed novel thermoresponsive microcarriers as a powerful tool for cell culture and tissue engineering applications. For this purpose, two types of commercially available spherical microparticles (approximately 100 μm in diameter), dextran-based Sephadex® and vinyl acetate-based VA-OH (Biosynth®), were used and themoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) was grafted to the beads' surfaces by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP). Initially, hydroxyl groups of microbeads were reacted with 2-bromopropionyl bromide to form ATRP macroinitiator. Then, NIPAAm was successfully polymerized from the initiator attached microbeads by ATRP with CuBr/2,2′-dipyridyl, catalyst complex. Furthermore, grafted and ungrafted microbeads were characterized by attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscope (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA). The results of characterization studies confirmed that PNIPAAm was successfully grafted onto both dextran and vinyl acetate-based beads by means of ATRP reaction and thus, grafted microbeads gained thermoresponsive characteristics which will be evaluated for cell harvesting in further studies. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.