Despite significant therapeutic advances, heart failure remains the predominant cause of mortality in the Western world. Ischaemic cardiomyopathy and myocardial infarction are typified by the irreversible loss of cardiac muscle (cardiomyocytes) and vasculature composed of endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, which are essential for maintaining cardiac integrity and function. The recent identification of adult and embryonic stem cells has triggered attempts to directly repopulate these tissues by stem cell transplantation as a novel therapeutic option. Reports describing provocative and hopeful examples of myocardial regeneration with adult bone-marrow-derived stem and progenitor cells have increased the enthusiasm for the use of these cells, yet many questions remain regarding their therapeutic potential and the mechanisms responsible for the observed therapeutic effects. In this review article we discuss the current preclinical and clinical advances in bone-marrow-derived stem or progenitor cell therapies for regeneration or repair of the ischaemic myocardium and their multiple related mechanisms involved in myocardial repair and regeneration.