Background aims. Stem cells (SC) in different locations have individual characteristics. Important questions to be answered include how these specialties are generated, what the mechanism underlying their generation is, and what their biologic and clinical merits are. A basic approach to answering these questions is to make comparisons between the differences and similarities among the various SC types. They may focus on aspects of biologic marker discovery, capacity of proliferation and differentiation, along with other characteristics. The aim of this study was to characterize in detail the SC isolated from pancreatic islet (PI) and compare their properties with bone marrow (BM)-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) of the rat. Methods. Immunophenotypic characteristics, proliferation capacities, telomerase activities, pluripotent-related gene expressions, ultrastructure and the potential for multilineage differentiation of PI SC and BM MSC were studied. Results. We found that PI SC expressed markers of embryonic SC (Oct-4, Sox-2 and Rex-1) and had a high proliferation capacity, proven also by high telomerase activities. Surprisingly, markers belonging to differentiated cells were expressed by these cells in a constitutive manner. PI SC ultrastructure showed more developed and metabolically active cells. Conclusions. The immunocytochemical identification of both PI SC and BM MSC was demonstrated to be typical MSC. Without stimulation of differentiation markers of adipogenic, chondrogenic, neurogenic, myogenic and osteogenic cells in these SC, the expression of those markers might explain their multilineage differentiation potential. We suggest that, by reason of the respectively high telomerase activity in PI SC, they could be better candidates than BM MSC for cell replacement therapy of type 1 diabetes.