Mammalian organs comprise an extraordinary diversity of cell and tissue types. Regenerative organs, such as the skin and gastrointestinal tract, use resident stem cells to maintain tissue function. Organs with a lower cellular turnover, such as the liver and lungs, mostly rely on proliferation of committed progenitor cells. In many organs, injury reveals the plasticity of both resident stem cells and differentiated cells. The ability of resident cells to maintain and repair organs diminishes with age, whereas, paradoxically, the risk of cancer increases. New therapeutic approaches aim to harness cell plasticity for tissue repair and regeneration while avoiding the risk of malignant transformation of cells.