Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent a stem cell population present in adult tissues that can be isolated, expanded in culture, and characterized in vitro and in vivo. MSCs differentiate readily into chondrocytes, adipocytes, osteocytes, and they can support hematopoietic stem cells or embryonic stem cells in culture. Evidence suggests MSCs can also express phenotypic characteristics of endothelial, neural, smooth muscle, skeletal myoblasts, and cardiac myocyte cells. When introduced into the infarcted heart, MSCs prevent deleterious remodeling and improve recovery, although further understanding of MSC differentiation in the cardiac scar tissue is still needed. MSCs have been injected directly into the infarct, or they have been administered intravenously and seen to home to the site of injury. Examination of the interaction of allogeneic MSCs with cells of the immune system indicates little rejection by T cells. Persistence of allogeneic MSCs in vivo suggests their potential "off the shelf" therapeutic use for multiple recipients. Clinical use of cultured human MSCs (hMSCs) has begun for cancer patients, and recipients have received autologous or allogeneic MSCs. Research continues to support the desirable traits of MSCs for development of cellular therapeutics for many tissues, including the cardiovascular system. In summary, hMSCs isolated from adult bone marrow provide an excellent model for development of stem cell therapeutics, and their potential use in the cardiovascular system is currently under investigation in the laboratory and clinical settings.