The TP53 gene is unarguably one of the most studied human genes. Its encoded protein, p53, is a tumor suppressor and is often called the "guardian of the genome" due to its pivotal role in maintaining genome stability. Historically, most studies of p53 have focused on its roles in somatic cells and tissues, but in the last 2 decades, its functions in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells have attracted increasing attention. Recent studies have identified p53 as a critical regulator of pluripotency, self-renewal, differentiation, proliferation, and genome stability in mouse and human embryonic stem cells. In this article, we systematically review the studies on the functions of p53 in ESCs, provide an updated overview, attempt to reconcile controversial results described in the literature, and discuss the relevance of these cellular functions of p53 to its roles in tumor suppression. Published by Oxford University Press 2022.