Methods for the creation of specially designed surfaces for use in the preparation of tailor-made tissue constructs with the ultimate aim of tissue engineering are reviewed here. Fundamental aspects of cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation and the parameters involved in these processes are discussed. A survey of recent micro- and nano-technological methods for creating physical and chemical cues on tissue engineering carriers is presented. This overview is supported with data from the literature on various applications of different cells on materials with widely differing chemistries and physical properties. Interactions between different cell types and micro- and nano-fabricated substrates are summarized.