In the present study, the effect of a novel bioceramic, silicon-containing calcium phosphate ceramic (silicocarnotite, Ca5(PO4)2SiO4, CPS) on attachment, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (rBMSC) has been investigated in comparison to hydroxyapatite (HA). The CPS showed a similar cell attachment behavior to HA, while the proliferation of rBMSC on CPS was significantly higher than that on HA, which indicated that CPS had a good cytocompatibility. Moreover, the expression of alkaline phosphatase activity and osteogenic-related genes, including Runx-2, osteopontin (OPN), bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteocalcin (OC), demonstrated that CPS enhanced the osteogenic differentiation of rBMSC and accelerated the differentiation process. The results suggest that CPS ceramic exhibits a good cytocompatibility and osteogenic activity, which might be used as a potential candidate material for bone tissue engineering. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2013.