A simple stem cell model of human tumor growth is presented. Three tumor cell populations are predicted: stem, transitional, and end cells. The properties of these cells are discussed in terms of their behavior in currently available technologies for investigation of cell kinetics and for their influence on clinical outcome. Stem cell renewal, transitional cell proliferation, and cell loss are analyzed mathematically to define their influence on the relative proportions of cell populations; it is demonstrated that stem cell renewal has a central role in determining the growth properties of tumors. The impact of a stem cell model on the use of tumor clonogenic assays as predictors of clinical outcome is discussed; opinions are expressed as to the definition of reasonable expectations for current experimental procedures.