New sophisticated laboratory techniques, as well as established interactions between basic science, researchers and veterinarians, have led to an exponential increase in our understanding of the animal body in health and disease. The advent of animal cloning, the identification and characterization of stem cells, and publication of the various mammalian genomes has afforded the opportunity to exploit these technologies to better understand disease and develop new therapies. In human medicine, these medical advances are already being translated into clinical practice, the promise being that previously untreatable or incurable chronic diseases will become a thing of the past. In parallel, the veterinary profession is looking to these technologies to explore novel therapies for chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis in companion animals, and is applying these technologies to enhance food animal production. This review focuses on the emerging area of stem cell biology and explores the potential applications of stem cell technologies to veterinary medicine.