Human articular cartilage is highly susceptible to damage and has limited self-repair and regeneration potential. Cell-based strategies to engineer cartilage tissue offer a promising solution to repair articular cartilage. To select the optimal cell source for tissue repair, it is important to develop an appropriate culture platform to systematically examine the biological and biomechanical differences in the tissue-engineered cartilage by different cell sources. Here we applied a three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic hydrogel culture platform to systematically examine cartilage regeneration potential of juvenile, adult, and osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes. The 3D biomimetic hydrogel consisted of synthetic component poly(ethylene glycol) and bioactive component chondroitin sulfate, which provides a physiologically relevant microenvironment for in vitro culture of chondrocytes. In addition, the scaffold may be potentially used for cell delivery for cartilage repair in vivo. Cartilage tissue engineered in the scaffold can be evaluated using quantitative gene expression, immunofluorescence staining, biochemical assays, and mechanical testing. Utilizing these outcomes, we were able to characterize the differential regenerative potential of chondrocytes of varying age, both at the gene expression level and in the biochemical and biomechanical properties of the engineered cartilage tissue. The 3D culture model could be applied to investigate the molecular and functional differences among chondrocytes and progenitor cells from different stages of normal or aberrant development.