A leading strategy in tissue engineering is the design of biomimetic scaffolds that stimulate the body's repair mechanisms through the recruitment of endogenous stem cells to sites of injury. Approaches that employ the use of chemoattractant gradients to guide tissue regeneration without external cell sources are favored over traditional cell-based therapies that have limited potential for clinical translation. Following this concept, bioactive scaffolds can be engineered to provide a temporally and spatially controlled release of biological cues, with the possibility to mimic the complex signaling patterns of endogenous tissue regeneration. Another effective way to regulate stem cell activity is to leverage the inherent chemotactic properties of extracellular matrix (ECM)-based materials to build versatile cell-instructive platforms. This review introduces the concept of endogenous stem cell recruitment, and provides a comprehensive overview of the strategies available to achieve effective cardiovascular and bone tissue regeneration.