A major problem of allogeneic stem cell therapy is immunologically mediated graft rejection. HLA class I A, B, and Cw antigens are crucial factors, but little is known of their respective expression on stem cells and their progenies. We have recently shown that locus-specific expression (HLA-A, but not -B) is seen on some multipotent stem cells, and this raises the question how this is in other stem cells and how it changes during differentiation. In this study, we have used flow cytometry to investigate the cell surface expression of HLA-A and -B on human embryonic stem cells (hESC), human hematopoietic stem cells (hHSC), human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) and their fully-differentiated progenies such as lymphocytes, adipocytes and osteoblasts. hESC showed extremely low levels of HLA-A and no -B. In contrast, multipotent hMSC and hHSC generally expressed higher levels of HLA-A and clearly HLA-B though at lower levels. IFNγ induced HLA-A to very high levels on both hESC and hMSC and HLA-B on hMSC. Even on hESC, a low expression of HLA-B was achieved. Differentiation of hMSC to osteoblasts downregulated HLA-A expression (P = 0.017). Interestingly HLA class I on T lymphocytes differed between different compartments. Mature bone marrow CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells expressed similar HLA-A and -B levels as hHSC, while in the peripheral blood they expressed significantly more HLA-B7 (P = 0.0007 and P = 0.004 for CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, respectively). Thus different HLA loci are differentially regulated during differentiation of stem cells.