OBJECTIVE To establish the culture system of fetal bovine intestinal epithelial stem cells (IESCs) in vitro, identify specific markers of the cell lines and analyze the differentiation potential into hepatocyte-like cells. METHODS IESCs were isolated from the 3- to 5-month fetal bovine intestine by the digestion of collagenase I, and cultured in the DMEM/F12 medium. The cell morphology was observed, and the proliferation ability and multiple differentiation potential were demonstrated by subculturing and its growth curve. The mRNA expressions of the surface markers Bmi1, Hes1, Lgr5 and cytokeratin 19 (CK19) were determined by reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), and the protein levels of Bmi1, LGR5 and CK19 were detected by immunofluorescence cytochemistry. Under the induction of fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF-4) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), the cell differentiation into hepatocyte-like cells was assayed by the glycogen staining and RT-PCR. RESULTS IESCs cultured in vitro expressed Bmi1, Hes1, Lgr5 and CK19 mRNAs, and CK19, Bmi1 and LGR5 proteins. The differentiated cells were positively stained by glycogen, and RT-PCR showed that the cells expressed α-fetoprotein (AFP) and albumin (ALB) mRNAs. CONCLUSION The culture system of IESCs in vitro is successfully established, and the cells are differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells.