Background: Considerable amount of information about the potential of stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine is available today. Scientific meetings and publications in specialized journals enable experts in stem cell science and regenerative medicine to follow worldwide cutting-edge research. However, controversial information plaguing the media and the Internet lead patients to believe that stem cells are the long-awaited panacea even though there are little or no stringent factual data available yet. Sources of data: PubMed database systematically searched in the period 4-6 January 2011. Areas of agreement: Stem cell-based therapy is a future of regenerative medicine. Areas of controversy: Based on unsubstantial claims fueled by media, patients are frequently seeking advice about the risks and prospects of specific therapeutic regimes from their physicians. Reports in specialized journals written in a scientific vocabulary are difficult to evaluate for many primary-care physicians. Hence, physicians are reluctant to provide advice or endorse treatment options for cell-based therapies. Areas timely for further development: We wish to fill the gap and offer physicians suitable guidance. By giving a comprehensive overview of different types of stem cells and their potential in a simple language, here we are introducing a series of articles written by world-renowned experts on regenerative medicine about the current status and prospects of the field from the point of view of the standard level of patient safety and efficacy for the healthcare industry.