At present, it is well known that populations of human bone marrow stromal cells (HBMSCs) can differentiate into osteoblasts and produce bone. However, the amount of cells with osteogenic potential that is ultimately obtained will still be dependent on both patient physiological status and culture system. In addition, to use a cell therapy approach in orthopedics, large cell numbers will be required and, as a result, knowledge of the factors affecting the growth kinetics of these cells is needed. In the present study we investigated the effect of dexamethasone stimulation on the in vivo osteogenic potential of HBMSCs. After a proliferation step, the cells were seeded and cultured on porous calcium phosphate scaffolds for 1 week, and then subcutaneously implanted in nude mice for 6 weeks, in order to evaluate their in vivo bone-forming ability. Furthermore, the effect of donor age on the proliferation rate of the cultures and their ability to induce in vivo bone formation was studied. In 67% of the assayed patients (8 of 12), the presence of dexamethasone in culture was not required to obtain in vivo bone tissue formation. However, in cultures without bone-forming ability or with a low degree of osteogenesis, dexamethasone increased the bone-forming capacity of the cells. During cellular proliferation, a significant age-related decrease was observed in the growth rate of cells from donors older than 50 years as compared with younger donors. With regard to the effect of donor age on in vivo bone formation, HBMSCs from several donors in all age groups proved to possess in vivo osteogenic potential, indicating that the use of cell therapy in the repair of bone defects can be applicable irrespective of patient age. However, the increase in donor age significantly decreased the frequency of cases in which bone formation was observed.