Continued improvements in the understanding and application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have revolutionized tissue engineering. This is particularly true within the field of skeletal regenerative medicine. However, much remains unknown regarding the native origins of MSC, the relative advantages of different MSC populations for bone regeneration, and even the biologic safety of such unpurified, grossly characterized cells. This review will first summarize the initial discovery of MSC, as well as the current and future applications of MSC in bone tissue engineering. Next, the relative advantages and disadvantages of MSC isolated from distinct tissue origins are debated, including the MSC from adipose, bone marrow, and dental pulp, among others. The perivascular origin of MSC is next discussed. Finally, we briefly comment on pluripotent stem cell populations and their possible application in bone tissue engineering. While continually expanding, the field of MSC-based bone tissue engineering and regeneration shows potential to become a clinical reality in the not-so-distant future.