This report provides a comparative analysis of the regulation of embryonic stem cells and cloning research in 50 countries. The development of international stem cell consortia involving the exchange of materials, data and knowledge presumes 'policy know-how' on the varying positions and governing regulations of the various partners; knowledge is essential for the feasibility of such international collaborative projects. Across the spectrum of restrictive-to-liberal policies, requirements regarding the justification for or the setting of substantive limits on (i) embryo use and/or (ii) destruction in research are often present. These goals justify the regulation, the control and even the prohibition of embryonic stem cell and cloning research. Moreover, irrespective of whether a country adopts a restrictive or a liberal approach, there is significant symmetry in both the substantive and the procedural requirements. Procedural safeguards provide another layer of protection and control over the research. In reality, such safeguards may have a greater systemic impact than the substantive requirements. They can be subdivided into three broad categories: (i) safeguards relating to the stage of embryonic development, (ii) safeguards relating to the donors of blastocysts, gametes, embryos and somatic cells and (iii) requirements for research governance.