This article forms a review and an appraisal of the third annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (http://www.isscr.org), held in San Francisco on June 23-25, 2005. The focus of the meeting was recent advances in stem cell biology. More than 2,000 scientists from around the world met to discuss stem cell research, clinical applications, and the ethical hurdles facing the field. Major topics highlighted during the meeting included the self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cells as well as adult stem cells. Presentations included diverse topics such as cancer stem cells, tissue-specific stem cells, technology development, and clinical aspects of stem cells. Given the excitement the field has generated, linking basic stem cell research and clinical applications was paramount for discussion at the meeting. With the current resources in molecular biology research, improvements in genetic engineering, postgenomic capabilities, and biotechnological advances, it appears timely that stem cell biology research is headed toward making a major therapeutic contribution to human health.