Recently, osteogenic precursor cells were isolated from human dental follicles, which differentiate into cementoblast- or osteoblast– like cells under in vitro conditions. However, mechanisms for osteogenic differentiation are not known in detail. Dental follicle cell long-term cultures supplemented with dexamethasone or with insulin resulted in mineralized nodules, whereas no mineralization or alkaline phosphatase activity was detected in the control culture without an osteogenic stimulus. A real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis was developed to investigate gene expression during osteogenic differentiation in vitro. Expression of the alkaline phosphatase (ALP) gene was detected during differentiation in the control culture and was similar to that in cultures with dexamethasone and insulin. DLX-3, DLX-5, runx2, and MSX-2 are differentially expressed during osteogenic differentiation in bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. In dental follicle cells, gene expression of runx2, DLX-5, and MSX-2 was unaffected during osteogenic differentiation in vitro. Osteogenic differentiation appeared to be independent of MSX-2 expression; the same was true of runx2 and DLX-5, which were protagonists of osteogenic differentiation and osteocalcin promoter activity in bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Like in bone marrow-derived stem cells, DLX-3 gene expression was increased in dental follicle cells during osteogenic differentiation but similar to control cultures. However, gene expression of osterix was not detected in dental follicle cells during osteogenic differentiation; this gene is expressed during osteogenic differentiation in bone marrow stem cells. These real-time PCR results display molecular mechanisms in dental follicle precursor cells during osteogenic differentiation that are different from those in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.