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Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment modality for injured cardiac tissue. A novel mechanism for this cardioprotection may include paracrine actions. Cardiac surgery represents the unique situation where preischemia and postischemia treatment modalities exist that may use stem cell paracrine protection. This review (1) recalls the history of stem cells in cardiac disease and the unraveling of its mechanistic basis for protection, (2) outlines the pathways for stem cell-mediated paracrine protection, (3) highlights the signaling factors expressed, (4) explores the potential of using stem cells clinically in cardiac surgery, and (5) summarizes all human stem cell studies in cardiac disease to date.