The structure and function of cartilaginous constructs, engineered in vitro using bovine articular chondrocytes, biodegradable scaffolds and bioreactors, can be modulated by the conditions and duration of tissue cultivation. We hypothesized that the integrative properties of engineered cartilage depend on developmental stage of the construct and the extracellular matrix content of adjacent cartilage, and that some aspects of integration can be studied under controlled in vitro conditions. Disc-shaped constructs (cultured for 5±1 days or 5±1 weeks) or explants (untreated or trypsin treated cartilage) were sutured into ring-shaped explants (untreated or trypsin treated cartilage) to form composites that were cultured for an additional 1-8 weeks in bioreactors and evaluated biochemically, histologically and mechanically (compressive stiffness of the central disk, adhesive strength of the integration interface). Immature constructs had poorer mechanical properties but integrated better than either more mature constructs or cartilage explants. Integration of immature constructs involved cell proliferation and the progressive formation of cartilaginous tissue, in contrast to the integration of more mature constructs or native cartilage which involved only the secretion of extracellular matrix components. Integration patterns correlated with the adhesive strength of the disc-ring interface, which was markedly higher for immature constructs than for either more mature constructs or cartilage explants. Trypsin treatment of the adjacent cartilage further enhanced the integration of immature constructs.