The use of nanoparticles in stem cell research is relatively recent, although very significant in the last 5 years with the publication of about 400 papers. The recent advances in the preparation of some nanomaterials, growing awareness of material science and tissue engineering researchers regarding the potential of stem cells for regenerative medicine, and advances in stem cell biology have contributed towards the boost of this research field in the last few years. Most of the research has been focused in the development of new nanoparticles for stem cell imaging; however, these nanoparticles have several potential applications such as intracellular drug carriers to control stem cell differentiation and biosensors to monitor in real time the intracellular levels of relevant biomolecules/enzymes. This review examines recent advances in the use of nanoparticles for stem cell tracking, differentiation and biosensing. We further discuss their utility and the potential concerns regarding their cytotoxicity. J. Cell. Biochem. 108: 746–752, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.