Direct reprogramming of somatic cells provides an opportunity to generate patient- or disease-specific pluripotent stem cells. Such induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells were generated from mouse fibroblasts by retroviral transduction of four transcription factors: Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc. Mouse iPS cells are indistinguishable from embryonic stem (ES) cells in many respects and produce germline-competent chimeras. Reactivation of the c-Myc retrovirus, however, increases tumorigenicity in the chimeras and progeny mice, hindering clinical applications. Here we describe a modified protocol for the generation of iPS cells that does not require the Myc retrovirus. With this protocol, we obtained significantly fewer non-iPS background cells, and the iPS cells generated were consistently of high quality. Mice derived from Myc(-) iPS cells did not develop tumors during the study period. The protocol also enabled efficient isolation of iPS cells without drug selection. Furthermore, we generated human iPS cells from adult dermal fibroblasts without MYC.