Frontline research progresses the applicability of bone marrow and adipose tissue in regenerative medicine, but fails to account for the functional improvement of the diseased. The justification for the failure in terms of stem cell survival, proliferation and regeneration is unclear. However, hyperglycemia rising during pathological conditions might be one such stumbling block. The prevailing literature accounts for both detrimental and beneficial effect of high glucose on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) leading to perplexity. Thus, this study focuses on the effect of high glucose on mesenchymal stem cells derived from subcutaneous fat, omentum fat and bone marrow in extensive cultures. We provide evidence for the retention of MSC characteristics of all sources with regards to surface marker profiling, proliferation, differentiation and karyotyping when cultured extensively under DMEM-HG containing glucose concentration of 25 mmol.l–1. Thus, it can be concluded that hyperglycemia in vivo (11 mmol.l–1) might not be a barrier for the ineffective functional improvement of transplanted stem cells. Furthermore, we elucidated subcutaneous and omentum fat as better sources of MSCs when compared with bone marrow, thereby making these sources optimal for therapies during hyperglycemic conditions. However, further research is needed to clear the path for efficient stem cell transplantation. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.