Infarction irreversibly damages the heart, with formation of an akinetic scar that may lead to heart failure. Endogenous cardiac stem cells (CSCs) are a promising candidate cell source for restoring lost tissue and thereby preventing heart failure. CSCs may be isolated in vitro, via the formation of cardiospheres, to give cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs). Although qRT-PCR analyses of CDCs have been performed, no justification for the selection of the housekeeping gene has been published. Here, we evaluated the most suitable housekeeping gene for RNA expression analysis in CDCs cultured under normoxia, hypoxia or with prolyl-4-hydroxylase inhibitors (PHDIs), from both neonatal and adult rats, to determine the effects of ageing and different culture conditions on the stability of the housekeeping gene for CDCs. Six candidate housekeeping genes, [glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), beta-actin (Actb), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase 1 (HPRT-1), beta-2-microtubulin (β2M), 60S acidic ribosomal protein large P1 (RPLP-1) and TATA box binding protein (Tbp)] were evaluated in this study. Analysis using geNorm and NormFinder revealed that GAPDH was the most constant housekeeping gene among all genes tested under normoxia for both neonatal and adult CDCs, whereas Actb was the most stable housekeeping gene under hypoxia. For the PHDI-treated CDCs, overall, GADPH, Actb and β2M were more consistently expressed, whereas HPRT-1, RPLP-1 and Tbp showed unstable expression. The ranking for β2M, HPRT-1 and RPLP-1 stability was different for neonatal and adult cells, indicating that expression of these genes was age-dependent. Lastly, independent of age or culture conditions, Tbp was the least stable housekeeping gene. In conclusion, a combination of Actb and GADPH gave the most reliable normalization for comparative analyses of gene transcription in neonatal and adult rat CDCs preconditioned by hypoxia or PHDIs.