Advances in stem cell biology have afforded promising results for the generation of various cell types for therapies against devastating diseases. However, a prerequisite for realizing the therapeutic potential of stem cells is the development of bioprocesses for the production of stem cell progeny in quantities that satisfy clinical demands. Recent reports on the expansion and directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in scalable stirred-suspension bioreactors (SSBs) demonstrated that large-scale production of therapeutically useful hESC progeny is feasible with current state-of-the-art culture technologies. Stem cells have been cultured in SSBs as aggregates, in microcarrier suspension and after encapsulation. The various modes in which SSBs can be employed for the cultivation of hESCs and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are described. To that end, this is the first account of hiPSC cultivation in a microcarrier stirred-suspension system. Given that cultured stem cells and their differentiated progeny are the actual products used in tissue engineering and cell therapies, the impact of bioreactor's operating conditions on stem cell self-renewal and commitment should be considered. The effects of variables specific to SSB operation on stem cell physiology are discussed. Finally, major challenges are presented which remain to be addressed before the mainstream use of SSBs for the large-scale culture of hESCs and hiPSCs.