Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are generated from somatic cells by the exogenous expression of defined transcription factors. iPSCs share the defining features of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in that they are able to self-renew indefinitely and maintain the potential to develop into all cell types of the body. These cells have key advantages over ESCs in that they are autologous to the donor cells and can be generated from individuals at any age. iPSCs also circumvent ethical and political issues surrounding the destruction of embryos that is necessary in the isolation of ESCs. This review briefly describes the advent of iPSC technology and the concepts of nuclear reprogramming, and discusses the potential application of this powerful biological tool in both surgical research and regenerative medicine.