Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a rare inherited bone marrow failure syndrome caused by ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency. DBA exhibits marked phenotypic variability, commonly presenting with erythroid hypoplasia, less consistently with non-erythroid features. The p53 pathway, activated by abortive ribosome assembly, is hypothesized to contribute to the erythroid failure of DBA. We studied murine embryonic stem (ES) cell lines harboring a gene trap mutation in a ribosomal protein gene, either Rps19 or Rpl5. Both mutants exhibited ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency and polysome defects. Rps19 mutant ES cells showed significant increase in p53 protein expression, however, there was no similar increase in the Rpl5 mutant cells. Embryoid body formation was diminished in both mutants but nonspecifically rescued by knockdown of p53. When embryoid bodies were further differentiated to primitive erythroid colonies, both mutants exhibited a marked reduction in colony formation, which was again nonspecifically rescued by p53 inhibition. Cell cycle analyses were normal in Rps19 mutant ES cells, but there was a significant delay in the G2/M phase in the Rpl5 mutant cells, which was unaffected by p53 knockdown. Concordantly, Rpl5 mutant ES cells had a more pronounced growth defect in liquid culture compared to the Rps19 mutant cells. We conclude that the defects in our RPS19 and RPL5 haploinsufficient mouse ES cells are not adequately explained by p53 stabilization, as p53 knockdown appears to increase the growth and differentiation potential of both parental and mutant cells. Our studies demonstrate that gene trap mouse ES cells are useful tools to study the pathogenesis of DBA.