The ability to identify and manipulate stem cells has been a significant advancement in regenerative medicine and has contributed to the development of tissue engineering-based clinical therapies. Difficulties associated with achieving predictable periodontal regeneration, means that novel techniques such as tissue engineering need to be developed in order to regenerate the extensive soft and hard tissue destruction that results from periodontitis. One of the critical requirements for a tissue engineering approach is the delivery of ex vivo expanded progenitor populations or the mobilization of endogenous progenitor cells capable of proliferating and differentiating into the required tissues. By definition, stem cells fulfill these requirements and the recent identification of stem cells within the periodontal ligament represents a significant development in the progress toward predictable periodontal regeneration. In order to explore the importance of stem cells in periodontal wound healing and regeneration, this review will examine contemporary concepts in stem cell biology, the role of periodontal ligament progenitor cells in the regenerative process, recent developments in identifying periodontal stem cells and the clinical implications of these findings.