This study examines the use of a devitalized biological knee as a scaffold for repopulation with chondrocytes and tests the hypothesis that the devitalized scaffold would become repopulated with the foreign chondrocytes when placed in a suitable environment. Chimeric knee constructs were engineered in vitro and their ectopic in vivo fate was examined in SCID mice. The constructs were made by applying porous collagen sponges that contained viable bovine articular chondrocytes to shaved articular surfaces of devitalized embryonic chick knees. The chimeric joints were cultured for 1 week and were subsequently transplanted into dorsal subcutaneous pouches of 5-week-old mice. Specimens were prepared for histological analysis at 1, 3, 6, or 8 weeks after transplantation. Controls included empty collagen sponges, collagen sponges seeded with viable bovine chondrocytes, and devitalized chick knees without collagen sponge inserts. One week after in vitro incubation of the constructs, the porous collagen sponges with viable bovine chondrocytes were adherent to the shaved articular surfaces of the devitalized chick joints. There was abundant metachromatic neomatrix around the chondrocytes in the collagen sponges. During maintenance of the constructs in vivo, the chimeric joints exhibited dramatic changes. Bovine chondrocytes proliferated in the collagen sponges and formed abundant new matrix. Bovine chondrocytes migrated into preexisting chick cartilage canals at 1 week. Subsequently, bovine chondrocytes invaded the matrix of the devitalized chick knees. Bovine neocartilage obliterated the interface between the collagen sponge and the devitalized chick cartilage. With time in vivo, the bovine neocartilage expanded and replaced the chick matrix. The devitalized cartilage appears to provide a framework for supporting chondrogenesis in a chimeric joint.