Bone marrow is commonly used as a source of adult multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), defined for their ability to differentiate in vitro into multiple lineages. The ex vivo-expanded MSCs are currently being evaluated as a strategy for the restoration of function in damaged skeletal tissue, both in cell therapy and tissue engineering applications. The aim of this study was to define gene expression patterns underlying the differentiation of MSCs into mature osteoblasts during the expansion in vitro, and to explore a variety of cell functions that cannot be easily evaluated using morphological, cytochemical, and biochemical assays. Cell cultures were obtained from bone marrow samples of six individuals undergoing total hip replacement, and a large-scale transcriptome analysis, using Affymetrix HG-U133A Plus 2.0 array (Affymetrix((R)), Santa Clara, CA), was performed at the occurrence of specific events, including the appearance of MSC surface markers, formation of colonies, and deposition of mineral nodules. We focused our attention on 213 differentially upregulated genes, some belonging to well-known pathways and some having one or more Gene Ontology annotations related to bone cell biology, including angiogenesis, bone-related genes, cell communication, development and morphogenesis, transforming growth factor-beta signaling, and Wnt signaling. Twenty-nine genes, whose role in bone cell pathophysiology has not been described yet, were found. In conclusion, gene expression patterns that characterize the early, intermediate, and late phases of the osteogenic differentiation process of ex vivo-expanded MSCs were defined. These signatures represent a useful tool to monitor the osteogenic process, and to analyze a broad spectrum of functions of MSCs cultured on scaffolds, especially when the constructs are conceived for releasing growth factors or other signals to promote bone regeneration.