Hypertrophic differentiation of chondrocytes is a main barrier in application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for cartilage repair. In addition, hypertrophy occurs occasionally in osteoarthritis (OA). Here we provide a comprehensive review on recent literature describing signal pathways in the hypertrophy of MSCs-derived in vitro differentiated chondrocytes and chondrocytes, with an emphasis on the crosstalk between these pathways. Insight into the exact regulation of hypertrophy by the signaling network is necessary for the efficient application of MSCs for articular cartilage repair and for developing novel strategies for curing OA. We focus on articles describing the role of the main signaling pathways in regulating chondrocyte hypertrophy-like changes. Most studies report hypertrophic differentiation in chondrogenesis of MSCs, in both human OA and experimental OA. Chondrocyte hypertrophy is not under the strict control of a single pathway but appears to be regulated by an intricately regulated network of multiple signaling pathways, such as WNT, Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)/Transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ), Parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP), Indian hedgehog (IHH), Fibroblast growth factor (FGF), Insulin like growth factor (IGF) and Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). This comprehensive review describes how this intricate signaling network influences tissue-engineering applications of MSCs in articular cartilage (AC) repair, and improves understanding of the disease stages and cellular responses within an OA articular joint.