The groundbreaking isolation of embryonic stem cells (or 'ES cells') of the mouse in the early 1980s triggered a sustained expansion of global research into their exploitation. This led to the routine genetic engineering of the mouse and revolutionised our understanding of biological processes in the context of the whole animal. ES cell biology remains a crucial and growing area of research with far-reaching implications for developmental and comparative biology as well as for human health. This book serves as a primer to ES cells, their derivation and experimental manipulation. It contains a broad compendium of methods of direct relevance to both graduate students and specialist researchers. An introductory chapter by the principle originator of ES cell research outlines the fundamentals and charts the development of the field. This is followed by comprehensive coverage of state-of-the art techniques for ES cell manipulation, with the mouse as the experimental paradigm, and by recent innovations with ES cells from human and non-human primates. ES cell-based therapies for otherwise intractable diseases are now being developed with the present challenge to control ES cell growth and differentiation for applications such as cell transplantation - a recurrent theme in this book. As a volume in the Practical Approach Series, the emphasis is on current methods from recognized experts.