The application of human embryonic stem (hES) cells in regenerative medicine will require rigorous quality control measures to ensure the safety of hES cell-derived grafts. During propagation in vitro, hES cells can acquire cytogenetic abnormalities as well as submicroscopic genetic lesions, such as small amplifications or deletions. Many of the genetic abnormalities that arise in hES cell cultures are also implicated in human cancer development. The causes of genetic instability of hES cells in culture are poorly understood, and commonly used cytogenetic methods for detection of abnormal cells are capable only of low-throughput analysis on small numbers of cells. The identification of biomarkers of genetic instability in hES cells would greatly facilitate the development of culture methods that preserve genomic integrity. Here we show that CD30, a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, is expressed on transformed but not normal hES cells, and that CD30 expression protects hES cells against apoptosis.