OBJECTIVE To observe the effect of a microencapsule scaffold capable of sustained release of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) and bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) in promoting the osteogenic differentiation of rat periosteum-derived stem cells (PDSCs) in vitro. METHODS PDSCs from 4-week-old SD rats, after identification of the surface markers using flow cytometry, were induced to differentiate into osteoblast, chondroblast, and adipocyte lineages. The differentiated cells were verified by staining with Alizarin red, toluidine blue, alcian blue, oil red O and by immunofluorescence assay. FGF-2/PELA/BMP-2, FGF-2/PELA, PELA/BMP-2 and PELA microcapsules were prepared, examined for surface morphologies using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and tested for controlled release of FGF-2 and BMP-2 using ELISA. The third passage of PDSCs were cultured in the presence of the aqueous extracts of one of the 4 materials, and alkaline phosphatase (AKP) activity in the culture media was detected at 7 and 14 days of culture; the expression levels of osteogenesis-related genes were quantified with quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The osteogenic differentiation ability of the PDSCs cultured with the extracts was compared. RESULTS The PDSCs, which expressed mesenchymal stem cell surface markers, were shown to have osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic differentiation potentials. The cells cultured with the extract of FGF-2/PELA/BMP-2 microcapsules showed the highest AKP activity at 7 and 14 days of culture, and their expression levels of OCN and RunX-2 mRNA were the highest among the 4 groups; RunX-2 expression reached its peak level on day 14, and OCN mRNA expression level increased progressively as the culture time extended. CONCLUSION FGF-2/PELA/BMP-2 biomimetic controlled release microcapsules preserve the cytokine activities and are capable of promoting the osteogenic differentiation of rat PDSCs.