Controlling the cell phenotype using synthetic extracellular matrices such as hydrogels has been widely investigated, andespecially a use of cell-instructive systems is essential to regulate the phenotype of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Inthis presentation, we report a biomimetic system that provides a stem cell niche using cell-instructive alginate-based microgels.Alginate microgels were prepared by the water-in-oil emulsion method, solidified in the presence of calcium chloride, and thenmodified with a peptide derived from E-cadherin receptor. Chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs is typically influenced by cellaggregate formation and cadherin is a key factor in mediating cell-cell interactions. These spherical microgels with a similar sizeto that of cells formed an aggregate in the presence of MSCs, resulting in excellent cell viability and enhanced chondrogenesisin vitro. This approach to controlling cell-interactive features of hydrogels may be useful in 3-D stem cell culture and tissueengineering applications.