Stem cell transplantation is a promising treatment for many conditions. Although stem cells can be isolated from many tissues, blood is the ideal source of these cells due to the ease of collection. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been paid increased attention because of their powerful proliferation and pluripotent differentiating ability. But whether MSCs reside in blood (newborn umbilical cord blood and fetal or adult peripheral blood) is also debatable. The present study showed that MSC-like cells could be isolated and expanded from 16-26 weeks fetal blood but were not acquired efficiently from full-term infants' umbilical cord blood (UCB). Adherent cells separated from postnatal UCB were heterogeneous in cell morphology. Their proliferation capacity was limited and they were mainly CD45+, which indicated their haematopoietic derivation. On the contrary, MSC-like cells shared a similar phenotype to bone marrow MSCs. They were CD34- CD45- CD44+ CD71+ CD90+ CD105+. They could be induced to differentiate into osteogenic, adipogenic and neural lineage cells. Single cell clones also showed similar phenotype and differentiation ability. Our results suggest that early fetal blood is rich in MSCs but term UCB is not.