To understand how cells respond to the nanoscale extracellular environment in vivo, cells from various sources have been cultured on nanoscale patterns fabricated using bottom-up and top-down techniques. Human fetal osteoblasts (hFOBs) and stem cells are some of them and they are known to be overtly responsive to nanoscale topographies - allowing us to investigate the hows and whys of the response in vitro. Information gathered from these in vitro studies could be used to control the cells, i.e. make the stem cells differentiate or retain their characteristics without the use of medium supplements. In this review, hFOB and stem cell responses to nanotopographies are summarized and discussed to shed some light on the influence of patterns on the reactions. Although both types of cells are responsive to nanoscale topographies, the responses are found to be unique to topographical dimension, shape, orientation and the types of cells used. This implies that cellular responses are influenced by multitude of factors and that if done right, cheaper self-assembled nanotopographies can be tailored to control the cells. A new self-assembly, powder-based technique is also included to provide an insight into the future of nanofabrication.