Haemopoiesis is sustained by two main cellular components, the haematopoietic cells (HSCs) and the mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs). MPCs are multipotent and are the precursors for marrow stroma, bone, cartilage, muscle and connective tissues. Although the presence of HSCs in umbilical cord blood (UCB) is well known, that of MPCs has been not fully evaluated. In this study, we examined the ability of UCB harvests to generate in culture cells with characteristics of MPCs. Results showed that UCB-derived mononuclear cells, when set in culture, gave rise to adherent cells, which exhibited either an osteoclast- or a mesenchymal-like phenotype. Cells with the osteoclast phenotype were multinucleated, expressed TRAP activity and antigens CD45 and CD51/CD61. In turn, cells with the mesenchymal phenotype displayed a fibroblast-like morphology and expressed several MPC-related antigens (SH2, SH3, SH4, ASMA, MAB 1470, CD13, CD29 and CD49e). Our results suggest that preterm, as compared with term, cord blood is richer in mesenchymal progenitors, similar to haematopoietic progenitors.