The CD133 antigen, identified as a hematopoietic stem cell marker, appears in various human embryonic epithelia including the neural tube, gut, and kidney. We herein investigated whether CD133(+) cells isolated from human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines possess cancer stem/progenitor cell-like properties. Among the three cell lines studied, the CD133 antigen was found to be expressed only on the surface of Huh-7 cells. CD133(+) cells from Huh-7 performed a higher in vitro proliferative potential and lower mRNA expressions of mature hepatocyte markers, glutamine synthetase and cytochrome P450 3A4, than CD133(-) population of Huh-7 cells. When either CD133(+) or CD133(-) cells were subcutaneously injected into SCID mice, CD133(+) cells formed tumors, whereas CD133(-) cells induced either a very small number of tumors or none at all. Taken together, the identification of CD133(+) cells could thus be a potentially powerful tool to investigate the tumorigenic process in the hepatoma system and to also develop effective therapies targeted against hepatocellular carcinoma.