Despite progress in our understanding of the growth factors that support the progressive maturation of the various cell lineages of the hematopoietic system, less is known about factors that govern the self-renewal of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs), and our ability to expand human HSPC numbers ex vivo remains limited. Interest in stem cell expansion has been heightened by the increasing importance of HSCs in the treatment of both malignant and nonmalignant diseases, as well as their use in gene therapy. To date, most attempts to ex vivo expand HSPCs have used hematopoietic growth factors but have not achieved clinically relevant effects. More recent approaches, including our studies in which activation of the Notch signaling pathway has enabled a clinically relevant ex vivo expansion of HSPCs, have led to renewed interest in this arena. Here we briefly review early attempts at ex vivo expansion by cytokine stimulation followed by an examination of our studies investigating the role of Notch signaling in HSPC self-renewal. We will also review other recently developed approaches for ex vivo expansion, primarily focused on the more extensively studied cord blood-derived stem cell. Finally, we discuss some of the challenges still facing this field.