Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic skeletal disease in the elderly. There is no effective therapy to reverse disease severity and knee OA (KOA) progression, particularly at the late stage. This study aims to examine the effect of peripheral blood-derived mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) on pain and motor function rescue in patients with Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade II to IV KOA. Participants received one intra-articular (IA) injection of autologous PBMNCs. The mononuclear cells were isolated from peripheral blood, enriched by a specialized medium (MoFi medium), and separated by Ficoll-Paque solution. The isolated and enriched PBMNCs could differentiate into M1 and M2 macrophages . The anti-inflammatory effect of the PBMNCs was similar to that of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells, evaluated by complete Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis in rodents. A single-arm and open-label pilot study showed that patients' knee pain and motor dysfunction were significantly attenuated after the cell transplantation, assessed by visual analogue scale (VAS) and Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) at 6 and 12 months post-treatment. Notably, the therapeutic effect of the PBMNCs treatment can be stably maintained for 24 months, as revealed by the KOOS scores. These preclinical and pilot clinical data suggest that IA injection of MoFi-PBMNCs might serve as a novel medical technology to control the pain and the progress of KOA.