Surgical tendon repair is limited by the availability of viable tissue for transplantation. Because of its relatively avascular nature, tendon is a prime candidate for engineered tissue replacement. To address this problem, cells isolated from rat Achilles tendon were grown to confluence in culture and allowed to self-assemble into a cylinder between two anchor points. The resulting scaffold-free tissue was composed of aligned, small-diameter collagen fibrils, a large number of cells, and an excess of noncollagenous extracellular matrix; all characteristics of embryonic tendon. The stress-strain response of the constructs also resembles the nonlinear behavior of immature tendons, and the ultimate tensile strength is approximately equal to that of embryonic chick tendon, roughly 2 MPa. These physical and mechanical properties indicate that these constructs are the first viable tendons engineered in vitro, without the aid of artificial scaffolding.