Stem cell research and related initiatives in regenerative medicine, cell-based therapy, and tissue engineering have generated considerable scientific and public interest. Researchers are applying stem cell technologies to chest medicine in a variety of ways: using stem cells as models for drug discovery, testing stem cell-based therapies for conditions as diverse as COPD and cystic fibrosis, and producing functional lung and tracheal tissue for physiologic modeling and potential transplantation. Although significant scientific obstacles remain, it is likely that stem cell-based regenerative medicine will have a significant clinical impact in chest medicine. However, stem cell research has also generated substantial controversy, posing a variety of ethical and regulatory challenges for research and clinical practice. Some of the most prominent ethical questions related to the use of stem cell technologies in chest medicine include (1) implications for donors, (2) scientific prerequisites for clinical testing and use, (3) stem cell tourism, (4) innovation and clinical use of emerging stem cell-based interventions, (5) responsible translation of stem cell-based therapies to clinical use, and (6) appropriate and equitable access to emerging therapies. Having a sense of these issues should help to put emerging scientific advances into appropriate context and to ensure the responsible clinical translation of promising therapeutics.