The derivation of patient-specific pluripotent cell lines through the introduction of a few transcription factors into somatic cells has opened new avenues for the study and treatment of human disorders. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their derivatives offer a unique platform for disease modeling, drug discovery and toxicology, as well as an invaluable source of cells for regenerative therapies. Here, we provide an overview of the various strategies currently available for iPSC generation, highlighting recent advances and discussing some of the challenges faced in harnessing the true potential of iPSCs for biomedical research and therapeutic applications. J. Cell. Physiol. 228: 267–275, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.