Periodontitis is a major chronic inflammatory disorder that can lead to the destruction of the periodontal tissues and, ultimately, tooth loss. To date, flap debridement and/or flap curettage and periodontal regenerative therapy with membranes and bone grafting materials have been employed with distinct levels of clinical success. Current resorbable and non-resorbable membranes act as a physical barrier to avoid connective and epithelial tissue down-growth into the defect, favoring the regeneration of periodontal tissues. These conventional membranes possess many structural, mechanical, and bio-functional limitations and the "ideal" membrane for use in periodontal regenerative therapy has yet to be developed. Based on a graded-biomaterials approach, we have hypothesized that the next-generation of guided tissue and guided bone regeneration (GTR/GBR) membranes for periodontal tissue engineering will be a biologically active, spatially designed and functionally graded nanofibrous biomaterial that closely mimics the native extra-cellular matrix (ECM). Objective: This review is presented in three major parts, including (1) a brief overview of the periodontium and its pathological conditions, (2) currently employed therapeutics used to regenerate the distinct periodontal tissues, and (3) a review of commercially available GTR/GBR membranes as well as the recent advances on the processing and characterization of GTR/GBR membranes from a materials perspective. Significance: Studies of spatially designed and functionally graded membranes (FGM) and in vitro antibacterial/cell-related research are addressed. Finally, as a future outlook, the use of hydrogels in combination with scaffold materials is highlighted as a promising approach for periodontal tissue engineering. © 2012 Academy of Dental Materials. All rights reserved.