OBJECTIVES: To determine effect of transforming growth factor-beta1 and bone morphogenetic protein-2 in matrix synthesis and expression of chondrogenic phenotype in human intervertebral disc cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The intervertebral disc cells were harvested and cultured from the surgical patients for the degenerative disc disease. TGF-beta1 was purchased from R&D and BMP-2 was produced by transfection of pcDNA3.1/Hygro/BMP-2 to CHO cell using Lipofectamine 2000. rhBMP-2 was separated by Heparin-Sepharose A chromatography. TGF-bata1 and BMP-2 were administered to culture. Proteoglycan synthesis was assessed by 35S incorporation and expression of matrix mRNA was analyzed by RT-PCR for collagen I, collagen II, aggrecan, and osteocalcin. RESULTS: TGF-bata1 and BMP-2 showed increased proteoglycan synthesis and expression of collagen I, collagen II and aggrecan mRNA in dose dependent manner respectively. There was no recognizable synergistic effect in matrix synthesis and matrix mRNA expression. Throughout dosage, expression of osteogenic phenotype (osteocalcin mRNA) was not noted. CONCLUSION: TGF-beta1 and BMP-2 proved to be effective anabolic agent for maximizing matrix synthesis without evidence of osteogenesis.