Several types of stem cell have been discovered from germ cells, the embryo, fetus and adult. Each of these has promised to revolutionize the future of regenerative medicine through the provision of cell-replacement therapies to treat a variety of debilitating diseases. Stem cell research is politically charged, receives considerable media coverage, raises many ethical and religious debates and generates a great deal of public interest. The tremendous versatility of embryonic stem cells versus the unprecedented reports describing adult stem cell plasticity have ignited debates as to the choice of one cell type over another for future application. However, the biology of these mysterious cells have yet to be understood and a lot more basic research is needed before new therapies using stem-cell-differentiated derivatives can be applied. Stem cell research opens-up the new field of 'cell-based therapies' and, as such, several safety measures have also to be evaluated.