Human adult mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC) have the potential to differentiate into chondrogenic, adipogenic or osteogenic lineages, providing a potential source for tissue regeneration. An important issue for efficient bone regeneration is to identify factors that can be targeted to promote the osteogenic potential of hMSCs. Using transcriptomic analysis, we found that integrin alpha5 (ITGA5) expression is upregulated during dexamethasone-induced hMSCs osteoblast differentiation. Gain-of-function studies showed that ITGA5 promotes the expression of osteoblast phenotypic markers as well as in vitro osteogenesis in hMSCs. Downregulation of endogenous ITGA5 using shRNA blunted osteoblast marker expression and osteogenic differentiation. Pharmacological and molecular analyses showed that the enhanced hMSCs osteoblast differentiation induced by ITGA5 was mediated by activation of FAK/ERK1/2-MAPKs and PI3K signaling pathways. Remarkably, activation of ITGA5 using a specific antibody that primes the integrin or a peptide that specifically activates ITGA5 was sufficient to enhance ERK1/2-MAPKs and PI3K signaling and to promote osteoblast differentiation and osteogenic capacity of hMSCs. We also demonstrate that hMSCs engineered to over-express ITGA5 exhibited a marked increase in their osteogenic potential in vivo. These findings not only reveal that ITGA5 is required for osteoblast differentiation of adult human MSCs but also provide a novel targeted strategy using ITGA5 agonists to promote the osteogenic capacity of hMSCs, which may be used for tissue regeneration in bone disorders where the recruitment or capacity of MSCs is compromised.