A range of biological and molecular effects caused by nicotine are considered to effect bone metabolism. Vitamin C functions as a biological antioxidant. This study was to evaluate the in vitro effects of nicotine on human bone marrow stromal cells and whether Vitamin C supplementation show the antagonism action to high concentration nicotine. We used CCK-8, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity assay, Von Kossa staining, real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western Blot to evaluate the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation. The results indicated that the proliferation of BMSCs increased at the concentration of 50, 100 ng/ml, got inhibited at 1,000 ng/ml. When Vitamin C was added, the OD for proliferation increased. For ALP staining, we found that BMSCs treated with 50 and 100 ng/ml nicotine showed a higher activity compared with the control, and decreased at the 1,000 ng/ml. Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) expression and the calcium depositions decreased at 100 and 1,000 ng/ml nicotine, while the addition of Vitamin C reversed the down regulation. By real-time PCR, we detected that the mRNA expression of collagen type I (COL-I) and ALP were also increased in 50 and 100 ng/ml nicotine groups (P < 0.05), while reduced at 1,000 ng/ml (P < 0.05). When it came to osteocalcin (OCN), the changes were similar. Taken all together, it is found that nicotine has a two-phase effect on human BMSCs, showing that low level of nicotine could promote the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation while the high level display the opposite effect. Vitamin C could antagonize the inhibitory effect of higher concentration of nicotine partly. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 1720–1728, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.