There have been few reports describing the effects of mechanical loading on the metabolism of meniscal cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of hydrostatic pressure on meniscal cell metabolism. Human meniscal cells were cultured in alginate beads for 3 days. They were then subjected to 4 MPa hydrostatic pressure for 4 hours in either a static or cyclic (1 Hz) mode using a specially designed and constructed system. Immediately after the pressure application, the messenger RNA levels for aggrecan, type I collagen, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) -1, -3, -9, -13 and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP) -1 and -2 were measured. It was found that the application of static hydrostatic pressure caused a significant decrease in mRNA expression for MMP-1 and -13 (p<0.05). In contrast, the application of cyclic hydrostatic pressure was associated with a significant increase in type I collagen (p<0.01), TIMP-1 and -2 mRNA expression (p<0.01). These results would suggest that hydrostatic pressure in isolation can modulate mRNA expressions for matrix proteins in meniscal cells.