Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a promising cell source for regenerative medicine. However, the cellular biology of these cells is not fully understood. The present study characterizes the cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR)-mediated Ca2+ signals in human MSCs and finds that externally applied cADPR can increase the frequency of spontaneous intracellular Ca2+ (Ca2+i) oscillations. The increase was abrogated by a specific cADPR antagonist or an inositol trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) inhibitor, but not by ryanodine. In addition, the cADPR-induced increase of Ca2+i oscillation frequency was prevented by inhibitors of nucleoside transporter or by inhibitors of the transient receptor potential cation melastatin-2 (TRPM2) channel. RT-PCR revealed mRNAs for the nucleoside transporters, concentrative nucleoside transporters 1/2 and equilibrative nucleoside transporters 1/3, IP3R1/2/3 and the TRPM2 channel, but not those for ryanodine receptors and CD38 in human MSCs. Knockdown of the TRPM2 channel by specific short interference RNA abolished the effect of cADPR on the Ca2+i oscillation frequency, and prevented the stimulation of proliferation by cADPR. Moreover, cADPR remarkably increased phosphorylated extracellular-signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2), but not Akt or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). However, cADPR had no effect on adipogenesis or osteogenesis in human MSCs. Our results indicate that cADPR is a novel regulator of Ca2+i oscillations in human MSCs. It permeates the cell membrane through the nucleoside transporters and increases Ca2+ oscillation via activation of the TRPM2 channel, resulting in enhanced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and, thereby, stimulation of human MSC proliferation. This study delineates an alternate signalling pathway of cADPR that is distinct from its well-established role of serving as a Ca2+ messenger for mobilizing the internal Ca2+ stores. Whether cADPR can be used clinically for stimulating marrow function in patients with marrow disorders remains to be further studied.