For tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, stem cells should be effectively cultured in vitro. New thermoresponsive nanocomposite gels (MD-NC gels), consisting of inorganic clay (hectorite) and copolymers composed of hydrophobic 2-methoxyethyl acrylate (MEA) and hydrophilic N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMAA) units, could be applied in cell culture and cell harvesting without trypsinization, specifically using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The composition of the MD-NC gel (the ratio of the two monomer types and the clay content) was found to determine its swelling properties in the culture medium, thermosensitivity, protein adsorption, and cell attachment and proliferation. Various kinds of human cells, including MSCs, osteoblast (HOS) cells, fibroblast (NHDF) cells, and epithelial cells could be effectively cultured on MD-NC gels. In particular, on an MD10-NC2 gel with relatively low DMAA and clay content, the cells could be harvested by decreasing the temperature, either as a cell sheet (MSCs or NHDF cells) or as a population of suspension cells (HOS cells). Further, it was found that the MD10-NC2 gel is suitable for stem cell differentiation. Because of their thermosensitivity, controllable modulus, and surface properties, MD-NC gels are promising cell culture substrates useful for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2013.