Sol-gel encapsulation has a variety of applications in biotechnology and medicine: creating biosensors, biocatalysts, and bioartificial organs. However, encapsulated cell viability is a major challenge. Consequently, interactions between cells and their 3D microenvironment were studied through rheological, metabolic activity, and extraction studies to aid in the development of new gel protocols. The cells were encapsulated in variations of three silica sol-gels with varying stiffness. It was hypothesized that the cell viability and the amount of extracted cells would depend on gel stiffness. For two gels, there was no apparent correlation between the gel stiffness and the cell viability and extracted cell quantity. These gels did strongly depend on the varying gel ingredient, polyethylene glycol. The third gel appeared to follow the hypothesized correlation, but it was not statistically significant. Finally, one gel had a significantly longer period of cell viability and higher quantity of extracted cells than the other gels.