Current knowledge suggests that the periosteum, a fibrous tissue which covers the surface of all bones, contains a population of progenitor cells which mediate the repair of bone defects. In an effort to optimise the utilisation of this source of cells for bone engineering, herein we describe the rational selection of calcium phosphate (CaP) containing materials, based on biomaterial properties, and evaluation of their combined bone forming capacity. Five different commercially available orthopaedic 3D matrices composed of CaP particles in an open collagen network (NuOss™, CopiOs™, Bio-Oss(®), Collagraft™ and Vitoss(®)) were evaluated in vitro and in vivo with human periosteal derived cells (hPDCs). It was found that the cell-material combinations behaved quite differently in vivo, despite apparent in vitro similarities in gene expression profiles. Bone formation was highest within the NuOss™/hPDC implant at 13.03%, which also contained the highest incidence of bone marrow formation. The bone formed in this implant was chimeric with approximately 65% originating from implanted cells. Upon analysis of human specific gene expression, although it was found that predominantly osteogenic differentiation was observed within NuOss™/hPDC implants, a lesser induction of chondrogenic genes was also observed. The formation of a cartilage intermediate was confirmed by histology. Additionally the NuOss™/hPDC implant integrated into the mouse environment with apparent active scaffold resorption. This study demonstrates the importance of matching a cell support/biological matrix with a cell type and subsequently has outlined parameters which can be used for the rational selection of biomaterials for bone engineering.