Connective tissue regenerative compositions and methods of repairing and regenerating connective tissue using such compositions are provided. The compositions generally comprise a bioactive hydrogel matrix comprising a polypeptide, such as gelatin, and a long chain carbohydrate, such as dextran. The hydrogel matrix may further include polar amino acids, as well as additional beneficial additives. Advantageously, the compositions include further components, such as osteoinductive or osteoconductive materials, medicaments, stem or progenitor cells, and three-dimensional structural frameworks. The compositions are useful for regenerating connective tissue, and can be administered to an area having injury to, or a loss of, connective tissue, such as bone, cartilage, tendon, and ligament.