BACKGROUND/AIMS Capacitive-resistive electric transfer (CRET) is a non invasive electrothermal therapy that applies electric currents within the 400 kHz - 450 kHz frequency range to the treatment of musculoskeletal lesions. Evidence exists that electric currents and electric or magnetic fields can influence proliferative and/or differentiating processes involved in tissue regeneration. This work investigates proliferative responses potentially underlying CRET effects on tissue repair. METHODS XTT assay, flow cytometry, immunofluorescence and Western Blot analyses were conducted to asses viability, proliferation and differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) from healthy donors, after short, repeated (5 m On/4 h Off) in vitro stimulation with a 448-kHz electric signal currently used in CRET therapy, applied at a subthermal dose of 50 μA/mm(2) RESULTS: The treatment induced PCNA and ERK1/2 upregulation, together with significant increases in the fractions of ADSC undergoing cycle phases S, G2 and M, and enhanced cell proliferation rate. This proliferative effect did not compromise the multipotential ability of ADSC for subsequent adipogenic, chondrogenic or osteogenic differentiation. CONCLUSIONS These data identify cellular and molecular phenomena potentially underlying the response to CRET and indicate that CRET-induced lesion repair could be mediated by stimulation of the proliferation of stem cells present in the injured tissues.