This study was aimed to investigate the growth and multiple differentiation potential of human umbilical cord tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs) transfected by a retroviral vector with catalase (CAT) gene. The UC-MSCs cultured in vitro were transfected by using pMSCV carrying GFP (pMSCV-GFP) and pMSCV carrying CAT (pMSCV-GFP-CAT) respectively, then the MSC-GFP cell line and MSC-GFP-CAT cell line were obtained by sorting of flow cytometry. The GFP expression was observed by a fluorescent microscopy at 48 hours after CAT gene transfection. The GFP+ cells were sorted by flow cytometry. The activity of CAT in GFP+ cells was detected by catalase assay kit. The proliferative capacity of transfected UC-MSCs was determined by cell counting kit-8. The differentiation ability of gene-transfected GFP+ cells into osteogenesis and adipogenesis was observed by von Kossa and oil red O staining. The results indicated that green fluorescence in UC-MSCs was observed at 48 hours after transfection, and the fluorescence gradually enhanced to a steady level on day 3. The percentage of MSCs-GFP was (25.54+/-8.65)%, while the percentage of MSCs-GFP-CAT was (35.4+/-18.57)%. The activity of catalase in UC-MSCs, MSCs-GFP, MSCs-GFP-CAT cells were 19.5, 20.3, 67.2 U, respectively. The transfected MSCs-GFP-CAT could be induced into osteoblasts and adipocytes. After 21 days, von Kossa staining showed induced osteoblasts. Many lipid droplets with high refractivity occurred in cytoplasm of the transfected UC-MSCs, and showed red fat granules in oil red O staining cells. There were no significant differences between transfected and non-transfected UC-MSCs cells (p>0.05). It is concluded that UC-MSCs are successfully transfected by retrovirus carrying GFP or CAT gene, the activity of catalase increased by 3.4-fold. The transfected UC-MSCs maintain proliferation potential and ability of differentiation into osteoblasts and adipocytes.