To test the purported immune privilege of embryonic stem cells (ESC) in the challenging setting of xenotransplantation, 14 immunocompetent baboons were subjected to a coronary artery occlusion-reperfusion sequence and, two weeks later, randomized to receive in-scar injections of culture medium or cardiac-committed mouse ESC engineered to express fluorescent reporter genes driven by cardiac-specific promoters. Two months after transplantation, left ventricular function, as assessed by echocardiography, deteriorated to a similar extent in control and treated baboons. This correlated with failure to identify the grafted cells by X-gal histology and immunofluorescence. Rejection did not seem to be mediated by xenoantibodies, but rather by T lymphocytes and natural killer cells as suggested by positive immunostaining for CD3 and CD56 early after transplantation. There was no increase in circulating levels of regulatory T cells. These data raise a cautionary note about the immune privilege of ESC and suggest that from a mere immunologic standpoint, ESC xenotransplantation is likely to be an unrealistic challenge. Copyright © 2007 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.