In this study, three kinds of photo-reactive polymers, namely positively charged azidophenyl-derived polyallylamine (AzPhPAAm), negatively charged azidophenyl-derived poly(acrylic acid) (AzPhPAAc) and neutral azidophenyl-derived poly(ethylene glycol) (AzPhPEG), were synthesized by introduction of photo-reactive group (-N3) into polyallylamine, poly(acrylic acid) and poly(ethylene glycol), respectively. The structure of the azidophenyl-derived polymers was confirmed by 1H-NMR measurement. All of the photo-reactive polymers can be pattern-grafted on the surface of cells culture plate, which was confirmed by the optical microscopy observation. The contact angle decreased after surface modification by the photo-reactive polymers. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) cultured on the modified surfaces showed different morphology. The cells adhered and spread more on the PAAm- and PAAc-grafted surfaces than on the PEG-grafted surface. The pellets formed on PAAm- and PEG-grafted surfaces in condrogenic differentiation medium were positively stained by safranin O/ fast green. But the pellet formed on PAAc-grafted surface did not show obviously positive staining for safranin O/ fast green. These results indicate that the PAAm- and PEG-grafted surfaces promoted chondrogenic differentiation of MSC.