Abnormal protease-resistant prion protein (PrP-res) is the only surrogate biochemical marker for prion diseases, and a sensitive technique to detect PrP-res in blood or tissues is urgently needed. Primary cultured bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) expressed PrP and were capable of supporting stable human prion infection. Using a mouse-adapted BSE strain, we demonstrated that PrP-res can be detected in expanded MSCs. We then analyzed the bone marrow cells collected at autopsy from two individuals with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and, in both cases, cultured MSCs were positive for PrP-res. These data would suggest that ex vivo MSC expansion accompanied by PrP-res analysis could be a helpful tool in the definitive diagnosis of prion disease at an earlier stage in the disease process than is currently possible, and with considerably less distress to the patient.