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This study examined the effects of supplementation of ES-like cell culture medium with bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4 (0, 10, 20 or 100 ng/ml) or Noggin (250, 500 or 750 ng/ml) or TGF-β1 (0, 0.1, 1 or 10 ng/ml) or SB431542 (0, 10, 25 or 50 μm), an inhibitor of TGF-β1 signalling, on survival, colony area and expression level of pluripotency genes in buffalo ES-like cells at passage 40–80, under different culture conditions. BMP-4 supplementation significantly reduced (p < 0.05) colony survival rate, percentage increase in colony area and relative mRNA abundance of OCT4, whereas that of NANOG and SOX-2 was increased significantly (p < 0.05). Noggin supplementation did not affect the colony survival rate and percentage increase in colony area in the presence of FGF-2 and LIF. In the presence of FGF-2 alone, it significantly reduced (p < 0.05) the relative mRNA abundance of OCT4 and SOX-2 and increased (p < 0.05) that of NANOG. Supplementation with TGF-β1 at 1.0 ng/ml but not at other concentrations increased colony survival rate but had no effect on percentage increase in colony area at any concentration. Supplementation with SB-431542 decreased (p < 0.05) colony survival rate at 50 μm but not at other concentrations. The percentage increase in colony area was lower (p < 0.05) with 10 μm SB-431542 than that in the controls, whereas at higher concentrations of 25 or 50 μm, SB-431542 decreased (p < 0.05) the colony size instead of increasing it. In conclusion, these results suggest that BMP-4 induces differentiation in buffalo ES-like cells, whereas TGF-β/activin/nodal pathway may not be playing a crucial role in maintaining pluripotency in these cells.