The stem cell is an essential component of a developmental phenomenon-one of the key components of a program fundamental to organogenesis and the maintenance of homeostasis throughout life. The stem cell confers plasticity to the process. Because aging is part of the developmental arc, an understanding of the stem cell is essential to understanding aging and some of the degenerative conditions that accompany it. Because stem cells may be isolated and manipulated ex vivo and then reimplanted into organs, they may serve a variety of functions. They have the capability of migrating long distances and targeting pathological conditions, of expressing therapeutic genes and responding to cues that shift their differentiation toward deficient lineages. Therefore, stem cells may be used for cell replacement, for therapeutic interventions, and potentially to modify aging.