Summary Large body of clinical and scientific data has been generated since the first cord blood transplantation (CBT) was performed in 1989. Superior immune plasticity of CB grafts, that allows for less stringent HLA matching, is especially valuable in the face of a persistently growing need for unrelated donor (UD) transplants. Limited cell dose remains the main setback of CBT, particularly in adult population. New strategies, such as transplantation with two cord blood units or using non-myeloablative conditioning, have remarkably expanded the availability of CB transplants in adults with hematological malignancies. Clinical trials with in vitro expanded CB-derived stem cells are under way. Currently cord blood is considered a second best choice after matched bone marrow. However, results of recent international studies indicate that in particular clinical settings, such as in children with leukemia, CB may become a frontline hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) source for transplantation. Recent advances in understanding the unique biology of cord blood will further expand indications for its use in different settings, including those beyond hematopoietic stem cells transplantation (HSCT).