Rapid advances in stem cell research have led to the derivation of hundreds of human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines in centers throughout the world, as well as the development of new technologies for producing pluripotent stem cells. These cell lines have unique characteristics and were derived using a variety of ethical guidelines. Stem cell registries have been developed in order to collect, organize, and disseminate cell line-specific information. In this review, we describe the current state of the field by providing an overview of the unique qualities and mandates of the three major stem cell registries the European hES Cell Registry, the Registry of hES Cell Line Provenance developed by the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the International Stem Cell Registry of hES and induced pluripotent stem cell lines established at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. While each registry has its own unique mandate and features, there is some overlap in the goals and information provided. This review discusses the challenges and prospects for an integrated approach in which all three registries effectively collaborate to minimize duplication and facilitate information exchange within the stem cell community.