The tetracycline (Tc)-inducible small interference RNA (siRNA) is a powerful tool for studying gene function in mammalian cells. However, the system is infrequently utilized in embryonic stem (ES) cells. Here, we present the first application of the Tc-inducible, stably integrated plasmid-based siRNA system in mouse ES cells to down-regulate expression of Npm1, an essential gene for embryonic development. The physiological role of Npm1 in ES cells has not been defined. Our data show that the knock-down of Npm1 expression by this siRNA system was not only highly efficient, but also Tc- dose- and induction time-dependent. Particularly, the down-regulation of Npm1 expression was reversible. Importantly, suppression of Npm1 expression in ES cells resulted in reduced cell proliferation. Taken together, this system allows for studying gene function in a highly controlled manner, otherwise difficult to achieve in ES cells. Moreover, our results demonstrate that Npm1 is essential for ES cell proliferation. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.