Biomaterials that can drive stem cells to an appropriate differentiation level and decrease apoptosis of transplanted cells are needed in regenerative medicine. Nanomaterials are promising novel materials for such applications. Here we reported that carboxylated multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT 1) promotes myogenic differentiation of mouse myoblast cells and inhibits cell apoptosis under the differentiation conditions by regulating basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors. MWCNT 1 attenuates bone morphogenetic protein receptor (BMPR) signaling activity by binding to BMPR2 and attenuating the phosphorylation of BMPR1. This molecular understanding allowed us to tune stem cell differentiation to various levels by chemical modifications, demonstrating human control of biological activities of nanoparticles and opening an avenue for potential applications of nanomaterials in regenerative medicine.