The most common synthetic biodegradable polymers being investigated for tissue engineering applications are FDA approved, clinically used poly(alpha-hydroxy esters). To better assess the applicability of the electrospinning technology for scaffold fabrication, six commonly used poly(alpha-hydroxy esters) were used to prepare electrospun fibrous scaffolds, and their physical and biological properties were also characterized. Our results suggest that specific, optimized fabrication parameters are required for each polymer to produce scaffolds that consist of uniform structures morphologically similar to native extracellular matrix. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed a highly porous, three-dimensional structure for all scaffolds, with average fiber diameter ranging from 300nm to 1.5microm, depending on the polymer type used. The poly(glycolic acid) (PGA) and poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid 50:50) (PLGA5050) fibrous structures were mechanically stiffest, whereas the poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA) and poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds were most compliant. Upon incubation in physiological solution, severe structural destruction due to polymer degradation was found in the PGA, poly(d,l-lactic acid) (PDLLA), PLGA5050, and poly(d,l-lactic-co-glycolic acid 85:15) (PLGA8515) fibrous scaffolds, whereas PLLA and PCL fibrous scaffolds maintained a robust scaffold structure during the same time period, based on macroscopic and SEM observations. In addition, PLLA scaffolds supported the highest rate of proliferation of seeded cells (chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells) than other polymeric scaffolds. Our findings showed that PLLA and PCL based fibrous scaffolds exhibited the most optimal structural integrity and supported desirable cellular response in culture, suggesting that such scaffolds may be promising candidate biomaterials for tissue engineering applications.