The stage-specific embryonic antigen 4 (SSEA4) is commonly used as a cell surface marker to identify the pluripotent human embryonic stem (ES) cells. Immunohistochemistry on human embryonic central nervous system revealed that SSEA4 is detectable in the early neuroepithelium, and its expression decreases as development proceeds. Flow cytometry analysis of forebrain-derived cells demonstrated that the SSEA4-expressing cells are enriched in the neural stem/progenitor cell fraction (CD133+), but are rarely codetected with the neural stem cell (NSC) marker CD15. Using a sphere-forming assay, we showed that both subfractions CD133+/SSEA4+ and CD133+/CD15+ isolated from the embryonic forebrain are enriched in neurosphere-initiating cells. In addition CD133, SSEA4, and CD15 expression is sustained in the expanded neurosphere cells and also mark subfractions of neurosphere-initiating cells. Therefore, we propose that SSEA4 associated with CD133 can be used for both the positive selection and the enrichment of neural stem/progenitor cells from human embryonic forebrain. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.