CSCs (cancer stem cells) are a small subset of cells within a tumour that possesses the characteristics of stem cells and are considered to be responsible for resistance to chemoradiation. Identification of CSCs through stem cell characteristics might have relevant clinical implications. In this study, SP (side population) cells were sorted from a human ovarian cancer cell line by FACS to determine whether cancer stem cell-like SP cells were present. A very small fraction of SP cells (2.6%) was detected in A2780 cells. SP cells possessed the following characteristics: highly proliferative activity, marked ability for self-renewal in soft agar and culture medium, high expression of ABCG2, drug resistance to vinblastine in vitro, and strong tumourigenic potential in Balb/c nude mice. It is concluded that there exists in the A2780 cell line a small number of SP cells with high expression of ABCG2. The cells have the characteristics of cancer stem-like cells, and identification and cloning of such human SP cells can help in improving therapeutic approaches to ovarian cancer in patients.