Previous studies have shown that prolonged propagation of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) requires conditioned medium from mouse embryonic feeders (MEF-CM) as well as matrix components. Because hESCs express growth factor receptors, including those for basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), stem cell factor (SCF), and fetal liver tyrosine kinase-3 ligand (Flt3L), we evaluated these and other growth factors for their ability to maintain undifferentiated hESCs in the absence of conditioned medium. We found cultures maintained in bFGF alone or in combination with other factors showed characteristics similar to MEF-CM control cultures, including morphology, surface marker and transcription factor expression, telomerase activity, differentiation, and karyotypic stability. In contrast, cells in media containing Flt-3L, thrombopoietin, and SCF, individually or in combination, showed almost complete differentiation after 6 weeks in culture. These data demonstrate that hESCs can be maintained in nonconditioned medium using growth factors.