For biotechnological research in vitro in general and tissue engineering specifically, it is essential to mimic the natural conditions of the cellular environment as much as possible. In choosing a model system for in vitro experiments, the investigator always has to balance between being able to observe, measure or manipulate cell behaviour and copying the in situ environment of that cell. Most tissues in the body consist of more than one cell type. The organization of the cells in the tissue is essential for the tissue’s normal development, homeostasis and repair reaction. In a co-culture system, two or more cell types brought together in the same culture environment very likely interact and communicate. Co-culture has proved to be a powerful in vitro tool in unravelling the importance of cellular interactions during normal physiology, homeostasis, repair and regeneration. The first co-culture studies focused mainly on the influence of cellular interactions on oocytes maturation to a pre-implantation blastocyst. Therefore, a brief overview of these studies is given here. Later on in the history of co-culture studies, it was applied to study cell–cell communication, after which, almost immediately as the field of tissue engineering was recognized, it was introduced in tissue engineering to study cellular interactions and their influence on tissue formation. This review discusses the introduction and applications of co-culture systems in cell biology research, with the emphasis on tissue engineering and its possible application for studying cartilage regeneration.