Transplantation of adult stem cells is being used to facilitate repair or regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues. However, in many cases, the therapeutic effects of the injected stem cells are mediated by factors secreted by stem cells and not by differentiation of the transplanted stem cells. Recent reports have identified a class of microvesicles, termed exosomes, released by stem cells that are able to confer therapeutic effects on injured renal and cardiac tissue. In this issue of Stem Cell Research & Therapy, Zhou and colleagues demonstrate the ability of exosomes derived from human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hucMSCs), but not non-stem cell-derived exosomes, to improve acute kidney injury induced by cisplatin in rats. The authors demonstrate that hucMSC exosomes can reduce cisplatin-mediated renal oxidative stress and apoptosis in vivo and increase renal epithelial cell proliferation in culture. These results suggest that stem cell-derived exosomes, which are easy to isolate and safer to use than the parental stem cells, could have significant clinical utility.