Articular cartilage defects do not heal. Biodegradable scaffolds have been studied for cartilage engineering in order to implant autologous chondrocytes and help cartilage repair. We tested some new collagen matrices differing in collagen type, origin, structure and methods of extraction and purification, and compared the behavior of human chondrocytes cultured on them. Human chondrocytes were grown for three weeks on four different equine type I collagen matrices, one type I, III porcine collagen matrix and one porcine type II collagen matrix. After 21 days, samples were subjected to histochemical, immunohistochemical and histomorphometric analysis to study phenotype expression and cell adhesion. At 7, 14 and 21 days cell proliferation was studied by incorporation of [3H]-thymidine. Our data evidence that the collagen type influences cell morphology, adhesion and growth; indeed, cellularity and rate of proliferation were significantly higher and cells were rounder on the collagen II matrix than on either of the collagen I matrices. Among the collagen I matrices, we observed a great variability in terms of cell adhesion and proliferation. The present study allowed us to identify one type I collagen matrix and one type II collagen matrix that could be usefully employed as a scaffold for chondrocyte transplantation.