Tissue engineered cartilage can be grown in vitro with the use of cell-scaffold constructs and bioreactors. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of perfusion bioreactors on the chondrogenic potential of engineered constructs prepared from porous silk fibroin scaffolds seeded with human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived mesencyhmal stem cells (MSCs). After four weeks of incubation, constructs cultured in perfusion bioreactors showed significantly higher amounts of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) (p < 0.001), DNA (p < 0.001), total collagen (p < 0.01), and collagen II (p < 0.01) in comparison to static culture. Mechanical stiffness of constructs increased 3.7-fold under dynamic culture conditions and RT-PCR results concluded that cells cultured in perfusion bioreactors highly expressed (p < 0.001) cartilage-related genes when compared with static culture. Distinct differences were noted in tissue morphology, including polygonal extracellular matrix structure of engineered constructs in thin superficial zones and an inner zone under static and dynamic conditions, respectively. The results suggest that the utility of perfusion bioreactors to modulate the growth of tissue-engineered cartilage and enhance tissue growth in vitro. (C) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 96A: 21-28, 2011.