Calcium phosphate ceramics (CPCs) have been widely used as biomaterials for the regeneration of bone tissue because of their ability to induce osteoblastic differentiation in progenitor cells. Despite the progress made towards fabricating CPCs possessing a range of surface features and chemistries, the influence of material properties in orchestrating cellular events such as adhesion and differentiation is still poorly understood. Specifically, questions such as why certain CPCs may be more osteoinductive than others, and how material properties contribute to osteoinductivity/osteoconductivity remain unanswered. Therefore, this review article systematically discusses the effects of the physical (e.g. surface roughness) and chemical properties (e.g. solubility) of CPCs on protein adsorption, cell adhesion and osteoblastic differentiation in vitro. The review also provides a summary of possible signaling pathways involved in osteoblastic differentiation in the presence of CPCs. In summary, these insights on the contribution of material properties towards osteoinductivity and the role of signaling molecules involved in osteoblastic differentiation can potentially aid the design of CPC-based biomaterials that support bone regeneration without the need for additional biochemical supplements.