Multipotent stem cells are clonal cells that self-renew as well as differentiate to regenerate adult tissues. Whereas stem cells and their fates are known by unique genetic marker studies, the fate and function of these cells are best studied by their prospective isolation. This review is about the properties of various highly purified tissue-specific multipotent stem cells and purified oligolineage progenitors. We contend that unless the stem or progenitor cells in question have been purified to near homogeneity, one cannot know whether their generation of expected (or unexpected) progeny is a property of a known cell type. It is interesting that in the hematopoietic system the only long-term self-renewing cells in the stem and progenitors pool are the hematopoietic stem cells. This fact is discussed in the context of normal and leukemic hematopoiesis.