Human dental pulp contains precursor cells termed dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) that show self-renewal and multilineage differentiation and also secrete multiple proangiogenic and antiapoptotic factors. To examine whether these cells could have therapeutic potential in the repair of myocardial infarction (MI), DPSC were infected with a retrovirus encoding the green fluorescent protein (GFP) and expanded ex vivo. Seven days after induction of myocardial infarction by coronary artery ligation, 1.5 x 10(6) GFP-DPSC were injected intramyocardially in nude rats. At 4 weeks, cell-treated animals showed an improvement in cardiac function, observed by percentage changes in anterior wall thickening left ventricular fractional area change, in parallel with a reduction in infarct size. No histologic evidence was seen of GFP+ endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, or cardiac muscle cells within the infarct. However, angiogenesis was increased relative to control-treated animals. Taken together, these data suggest that DPSC could provide a novel alternative cell population for cardiac repair, at least in the setting of acute MI.