We examined the influence of various alginates on the redifferentiation of dedifferentiated articular chondrocytes in alginate bead culture under low (5%) and (21%) high oxygen supply. Isolated bovine articular chondrocytes were dedifferentiated and multiplied by 2-week monolayer culture under 21% oxygen. They were subcultured at a density of 10(7) cells/mL in six different commercially available sodium alginates (1.2%, w/v) and held under 21 or 5% oxygen for 3 weeks. Proliferation (DNA measurement on days 0 and 21 of culture), collagen type II production (immunocytochemistry and Western blotting), and [(3)H]proline and [(35)S]sulfate incorporation were monitored. Collagen type II production was significantly stronger under 5% oxygen compared with 21% oxygen in two alginates (three other alginates nearly reached the significance level). However, alginate-based differences proved not to be significant. [(3)H]Proline incorporation was not influenced by alginate but showed strong oxygen dependency (up to 3-fold higher under 5% oxygen). For [(35)S]sulfate incorporation oxygen dependency was even stronger (up to 8-fold higher under 5% oxygen) and significant alginate-dependent differences were found for several alginates. The effects of the different alginates did not correlate with their pH, viscosity, or guluronic:mannuronic acid ratio. Thus, the type of alginate and even more, the oxygen supply, influence the redifferentiation and matrix production of dedifferentiated bovine articular chondrocytes.