Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from adult tissues are an important candidate cell type for cell-based tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Currently, clinical applications for MSCs require additional surgical procedures to harvest the autologous MSCs (i.e. from bone marrow) or commercial allogeneic alternatives. We have recently identified a population of mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) in traumatized muscle tissue that has been surgically debrided from traumatic orthopaedic extremity wounds. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether MPCs derived from traumatized muscle may provide a clinical alternative to bone-marrow MSCs, by comparing their morphology, proliferation capacity, cell surface epitope profile and differentiation capacity. After digesting the muscle tissue with collagenase, the MPCs were enriched by a direct plating technique. The morphology and proliferation rate of the muscle-derived MPCs was similar to bone-marrow derived MSCs. Both populations expressed cell surface markers characteristic for MSCs (CD 73, CD 90 and CD105), and did not express markers typically absent on MSCs (CD14, CD34 and CD45). After 21 days in specific differentiation media, the histological staining and gene expression of the MPCs and MSCs was characteristic for differentiation into osteoblasts, chondrocytes and adipocytes, but not into myoblasts. Our findings demonstrate that traumatized muscle-derived MPCs exhibit a similar phenotype and resemble MSCs derived from the bone marrow. MPCs harvested from traumatized muscle tissue may be considered for applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine following orthopaedic trauma requiring circumferential debridement. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.