Transcription factors NANOG, OCT4, and SOX2 regulate self-renewal and pluripotency in human embryonic stem (hES) cells; however, their expression profiles during early differentiation of hES cells are unclear. In this study, we used multiparameter flow cytometric assay to detect all three transcription factors (NANOG, OCT4, and SOX2) simultaneously at single cell level and monitored the changes in their expression during early differentiation towards endodermal lineage (induced by sodium butyrate). We observed at least four distinct populations of hES cells, characterized by specific expression patterns of NANOG, OCT4, and SOX2 and differentiation markers. Our results show that a single cell can express both differentiation and pluripotency markers at the same time, indicating a gradual mode of developmental transition in these cells. Notably, distinct regulation of SOX2 during early differentiation events was detected, highlighting the potential importance of this transcription factor for self-renewal of hES cells during differentiation.