The derivation of human embryonic stem (hES) cells currently requires the destruction of ex utero embryos. A previous study in mice indicates that it might be possible to generate embryonic stem (ES) cells using a single-cell biopsy similar to that used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which does not interfere with the embryo's developmental potential. By growing the single blastomere overnight, the resulting cells could be used for both genetic testing and stem cell derivation without affecting the clinical outcome of the procedure. Here we report a series of ten separate experiments demonstrating that hES cells can be derived from single blastomeres. In this proof-of-principle study, multiple biopsies were taken from each embryo using micromanipulation techniques and none of the biopsied embryos were allowed to develop in culture. Nineteen ES-cell-like outgrowths and two stable hES cell lines were obtained. The latter hES cell lines maintained undifferentiated proliferation for more than eight months, and showed normal karyotype and expression of markers of pluripotency, including Oct-4, SSEA-3, SSEA-4, TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, nanog and alkaline phosphatase. These cells retained the potential to form derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers both in vitro and in teratomas. The ability to create new stem cell lines and therapies without destroying embryos would address the ethical concerns of many, and allow the generation of matched tissue for children and siblings born from transferred PGD embryos.