The human umbilical cord is a promising source of mesenchymal stem cells (HUCMSCs). Unlike bone marrow stem cells, HUCMSCs have a painless collection procedure and faster self-renewal properties. Different derivation protocols may provide different amounts and populations of stem cells. Stem cell populations have also been reported in other compartments of the umbilical cord, such as the cord lining, perivascular tissue, and Wharton's jelly. HUCMSCs are noncontroversial sources compared to embryonic stem cells. They can differentiate into the three germ layers that promote tissue repair and modulate immune responses and anticancer properties. Thus, they are attractive autologous or allogenic agents for the treatment of malignant and nonmalignant solid and soft cancers. HUCMCs also can be the feeder layer for embryonic stem cells or other pluripotent stem cells. Regarding their therapeutic value, storage banking system and protocols should be established immediately. This review critically evaluates their therapeutic value, challenges, and future directions for their clinical applications.