In this study, we explore the selective culturing of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) on Si-based diffractive platforms. We demonstrate a single-step and flexible method for producing platforms on nanostructured porous silicon (nanoPS) based on the use of single pulses of an excimer laser to expose phase masks. The resulting patterns are typically 1D patterns formed by fringes or 2D patterns formed by circles. They are formed by alternate regions of almost unmodified nanoPS and regions where the nanoPS surface has melted and transformed into Si nanoparticles. The patterns are produced in relatively large areas (a few square millimeters) and can have a wide range of periodicities and aspect ratios. Direct binding, that is, with no previous functionalization of the pattern, alignment, and active polarization of hMSCs are explored. The results show the preferential direct binding of the hMSCs along the transformed regions whenever their width compares with the dimensions of the cells and they escape from patterns for smaller widths suggesting that the selectivity can be tailored through the pattern period. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 2013.