Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is used to treat some articular cartilage defects. However, the fate of the cultured chondrocytes after in-vivo transplantation and their role in cartilage regeneration remains unclear. To monitor the survival and fate of such cells in vivo, the chondrocytes were labelled with a lipophilic dye and the resultant regenerated tissue in dogs examined. It was found that, 4 weeks after implantation, the osteochondral defects were filled with regenerative tissue that resembled hyaline cartilage. Fluorescence microscopy of frozen sections of the regenerated tissue revealed that the majority of cells were derived from the Dil-labelled implanted chondrocytes. From these results, it was concluded that a large population of implanted autologous chondrocytes can survive at least 4 weeks after implantation and play a direct role in cartilage regeneration. However, it remains unknown whether other cells, such as periosteal cells or bone marrow stromal stem cells, are involved in the regeneration of cartilage after ACI.