For patients lacking a human leucocyte antigen-matched donor, umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an ideal, alternative source of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) for transplantation purposes. UCB has many advantages over bone marrow or peripheral blood taken from volunteer donors. UCB is also an important source of other stem cells, including endothelial progenitors, mesenchymal stem cells, very small embryonic/epiblast-like (VSEL) stem cells, and unrestricted somatic stem cells, which are potentially suitable for regenerative medicine. However, a significant clinical problem is that the number of HSCs in one cord-blood unit is not enough for an adult transplantation. The development of new approaches including use of multiple donors, ex vivo expansion, increasing efficiency of homing and engraftment, retrieving more cells from the placenta and cord blood is of crucial importance for the delayed engraftment after UCB transplantation. In the future, UCB will emerge as a source of cells for cellular therapies associated with tissue repair and regeneration.