Human bone marrow stromal cells are a multipotent population of cells capable of differentiating into a number of mesodermal lineages as well as supporting hematopoeisis. Their distinct protein and gene expression phenotype is well characterized in the literature. Human adipose tissue presents an alternative source of multipotent stromal cells. In this study, we have defined the phenotype of the human adipose tissue-derived stromal cells in both the differentiated and undifferentiated states. Flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry show that human adipose tissue-derived stromal cells have a protein expression phenotype that is similar to that of human bone marrow stromal cells. Expressed proteins include CD9, CD10, CD13, CD29, CD34, CD44, CD 49d, CD 49e, CD54, CD55, CD59, CD105, CD106, CD146, and CD166. Expression of some of these proteins was further confirmed by PCR and immunoblot detection. Unlike human bone marrow-derived stromal cells, we did not detect the STRO-1 antigen on human adipose tissue-derived stromal cells. Cells cultured under adipogenic conditions uniquely expressed C/EBPα and PPARδ, two transcriptional regulators of adipogenesis. Cells cultured under osteogenic conditions were more likely to be in the proliferative phases of the cell cycle based on flow cytometric analysis of PCNA and Ki67. The similarities between the phenotypes of human adipose tissue-derived and human bone marrow-derived stromal cells could have broad implications for human tissue engineering. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.