© 2016 Elsevier Masson SAS Stem cell-based therapy is currently tested in several trials of chronic heart failure. The main question is to determine how its implementation could be extended to standard clinical practice. To answer this question, it is helpful to capitalize on the three main lessons drawn from the accumulated experience, both in the laboratory and in the clinics. Regarding the cell type, the best outcomes seem to be achieved by cells the phenotype of which closely matches that of the target tissue. This argues in favor of the use of cardiac-committed cells among which the pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progeny is particularly attractive. Regarding the mechanism of action, there has been a major paradigm shift whereby cells are no longer expected to structurally integrate within the recipient myocardium but rather to release biomolecules that foster endogenous repair processes. This implies to focus on early cell retention, rather than on sustained cell survival, so that the cells reside in the target tissue long enough and in sufficient amounts to deliver the factors underpinning their action. Biomaterials are here critical adjuncts to optimize this residency time. Furthermore, the paracrine hypothesis gives more flexibility for using allogeneic cells in that targeting an only transient engraftment requires to delay, and no longer to avoid, rejection, which, in turn, should simplify immunomodulation regimens. Regarding manufacturing, a broad dissemination of cardiac cell therapy requires the development of automated systems allowing to yield highly reproducible cell products. This further emphasizes the interest of allogeneic cells because of their suitability for industrially-relevant and cost-effective scale-up and quality control procedures. At the end, definite confirmation that the effects of cells can be recapitulated by the factors they secrete could lead to acellular therapies whereby factors alone (possibly clustered in extracellular vesicles) would be delivered to the patient. The production process of these cell-derived biologics would then be closer to that of a pharmaceutical compound, which could streamline the manufacturing and regulatory paths and thereby facilitate an expended clinical use.