Many degenerative human diseases reflect damage to cells that are not normally repaired or replaced, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, hepatic failure and congestive heart failure. Preliminary studies in animals and humans have suggested that these diseases may be treatable by transplantation of healthy cells. Such cells may be obtained by in vitro culture of embryonic stem cells, which are capable of differentiating into many cell types. This review discusses applicative approaches for the derivation, maintenance and safety of human embryonic stem (hES) cells as well as ethical concerns surrounding their possible source for cellular therapy. hES cells offer broad application in cellular therapy; however, this review specifically emphasizes on cardiovascular repair, generation and characterization of hES cell-derived cardiomyocytes, vascular progenitors and differentiation of derivatives.