The stroma-vascular fraction (SVF) of human adipose tissue has recently been described to be composed of endothelial cells identified as CD34+/CD31+ cells, infiltrated/resident macrophages defined as CD14+/CD31+ cells, and a new cell population characterized as CD34+/CD31− cells. To elucidate the cell identity of the adipocyte precursor cells, fluorescent activating cell sorter (FACS) analyses were performed on crude SVF cultured under adipogenic conditions, i.e., serum-deprived medium containing insulin, cortisol, triiodothyronine, and supplemented with a PPARγ agonist for the first 3 days. The progressive accumulation of lipid droplets was associated with a selective enrichment of the CD34+/CD31− cell population whereas control experiments performed in medium supplemented with 10% serum showed an overall downregulation of the three cell markers without adipogenesis. Among the different cell subsets, the CD34+/CD31− subset was the unique cell fraction able to answer to adipogenic culture conditions. Indeed, a time-dependent expression of adipocyte markers as well as acquisition of adipocyte-typical metabolic activities were observed. In parallel, the gene expression of lipogenic and lipolytic enzymes increased. The ability to differentiate into adipocytes was restricted to cells that did not express the mesenchymal stem cell marker CD105. Furthermore, the CD34+/CD31− cells did not respond to culture conditions used for hematopoietic colony assays. Taken together, the present study demonstrates that adipocyte progenitor cells, i.e., the preadipocytes, are included in the CD34+/CD31− cell fraction, which displays distinct features from the adult mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.