Cementum is a calcified tissue covering the tooth root surface, which functions as rigid tooth-anchoring structure. Periodontal ligament is a unique non-mineralized connective tissue, and is a source of mineralized tissue forming cells such as cementoblasts and osteoblasts. The CEMP1 is a novel cementum component the presence of which appears to be limited to cementoblasts and their progenitors. In order to understand the function of CEMP1, we investigated CEMP1 expression during the differentiation of human periodontal ligament cells. Immunomagnetically enriched alkaline phosphatase (ALP)-positive periodontal ligament cells preferentially expressed CEMP1. CEMP1 expression was reduced when periodontal ligament cells differentiated to osteoblasts in vitro. Over-expression of CEMP1 in periodontal ligament cells enhanced cementoblast differentiation and attenuated periodontal and osteoblastic phenotypes. Our data demonstrate for the first time that the CEMP1 is not only a marker protein for cementoblast-related cells, but it also regulates cementoblast commitment in periodontal ligament cells. J. Cell. Physiol. 227: 649–657, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.