Direct reprogramming of human somatic cells into pluripotency has broad implications in generating patient-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for disease modeling and cellular replacement therapies. However, the low efficiency and safety issues associated with generation of human iPS cells have limited their usage in clinical settings. Cell types can significantly influence reprogramming efficiency and kinetics. To date, human iPS cells have been obtained only from a few cell types. Here, we report for the first time rapid and efficient generation of iPS cells from human amniotic fluid-derived cells (hAFDCs) via ectopic expression of four human factors: OCT4/SOX2/KLF4/C-MYC. Significantly, typical single iPS cell colonies can be picked up 6 days after viral infection with high efficiency. Eight iPS cell lines have been derived. They can be continuously propagated in vitro and express pluripotency markers such as AKP, OCT4, SOX2, SSEA4, TRA-1-60 and TRA-1-81, maintaining the normal karyotype. Transgenes are completely inactivated and the endogenous OCT4 promoter is adequately demethylated in the established iPS cell lines. Moreover, various cells and tissues from all three germ layers are found in embryoid bodies and teratomas, respectively. In addition, microarray analysis demonstrates a high correlation coefficient between hAFDC-iPS cells and human embryonic stem cells, but a low correlation coefficient between hAFDCs and hAFDC-iPS cells. Taken together, these data identify an ideal human somatic cell resource for rapid and efficient generation of iPS cells, allowing us to establish human iPS cells using more advanced approaches and possibly to establish disease- or patient-specific iPS cells.