Cartilage is exposed to low oxygen tension in vivo, suggesting culture in a low-oxygen environment as a strategy to enhance matrix deposition in tissue-engineered cartilage in vitro. To assess the effects of oxygen tension on cartilage matrix accumulation, porous polylactic acid constructs were dynamically seeded in a concentric cylinder bioreactor with bovine chondrocytes and cultured for 3 weeks at either 20 or 5% oxygen tension. Robust chondrocyte proliferation and matrix deposition were achieved. After 22 days in culture, constructs from bioreactors operated at either 20 or 5% oxygen saturation had similar chondrocyte densities and collagen content. During the first 12 days of culture, the matrix glycosaminoglycan (GAG) deposition rate was 19.5 × 10-9 mg/cell per day at 5% oxygen tension and 65% greater than the matrix GAG deposition rate at 20% oxygen tension. After 22 days of bioreactor culture, constructs at 5% oxygen contained 4.5 ± 0.3 mg of GAG per construct, nearly double the 2.5 ± 0.2 mg of GAG per construct at 20% oxygen tension. These data demonstrate that culture in bioreactors at low oxygen tension favors the production and retention of GAG within cartilage matrix without adversely affecting chondrocyte proliferation or collagen deposition. Bioreactor studies such as these can identify conditions that enhance matrix accumulation and construct development for cartilage tissue engineering.