With the continuous discovery of new alternative sources containing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), regenerative medicine therapies may find tailored applications in the clinics. Although these cells have been demonstrated to express specific mesenchymal markers and are able to differentiate into mesenchymal lineages in ad hoc culture conditions, it is still critical to determine the yield and differentiation potential of these cells in comparative studies under the same standardized culture environment. Moreover, the opportunity to use MSCs from bone marrow (BM) of multiorgan donors for cell banking is of relevant importance. In the attempt to establish the relative potential of alternative MSCs sources, we analyzed and compared the yield and differentiation potential of human MSCs from adipose and BM tissues of cadaveric origins, and from fetal annexes (placenta and umbilical cord) after delivery using standardized isolation and culture protocols. BM contained a significantly higher amount of mononuclear cells (MNCs) compared to the other tissue sources. Nonetheless, a higher cell seeding density was needed for these cells to successfully isolate MSCs. The MNCs populations were highly heterogeneous and expressed variable MSCs markers with a large variation from donor to donor. After MSCs selection through tissue culture plastic adhesion, cells displayed a comparable proliferation capacity with distinct colony morphologies and were positive for a pool of typical MSCs markers. In vitro differentiation assays showed a higher osteogenic differentiation capacity of adipose tissue and BM MSCs, and a higher chondrogenic differentiation capacity of BM MSCs. J. Cell. Biochem. 112: 1418–1430, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.