Normal adult mammary stem cells (AMSCs) are promising sources for breast reconstruction, particularly following the resection of breast tumors. However, carcinogenic events can potentially convert normal AMSCs to cancer stem cells, posing a safety concern for the use of AMSCs for clinical tissue regeneration. In the present study, AMSCs and autologous primary breast cancer cells were isolated and compared for their ability to differentiate, their gene expression profile, and their potential to form tumors in vivo. AMSCs were isolated from normal tissue surrounding primary breast tumors by immunomagnetic sorting. The pluripotency of these cells was investigated by differentiation analysis, and gene expression profiles were compared with microarrays. Differentially expressed candidate genes were confirmed by reverse transcriptionpolymerase chain reaction and western blot analyses. The in vivo tumorigenicity of these cells, compared with lowmalignancy MCF7 cells, was also investigated by xenograft tumor formation analysis. The results revealed that AMSCs isolated from normal tissues surrounding primary breast tumors were positive for the stem cell markers epithelialspecific antigen and keratin19. When stimulated with basic fibroblast growth factor, a differentiation agent, these AMSCs formed lobuloalveolar structures with myoepithelia that were positive for common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen. The gene expression profiles revealed that, compared with cancer cells, AMSCs expressed low levels of oncogenes, including MYC, RAS and ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase 2, and high levels of tumor suppressor genes, including RB transcriptional corepressor 1, phosphatase and tensin homolog, and cyclindependent kinase inhibitor 2A. When injected into nude nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiencytype mice, the AMSCs did not form tumors, and regular mammary ductal structures were generated. The AMSCs isolated from normal tissue adjacent to primary breast tumors had the normal phenotype of mammary stem cells, and therefore may be promising candidates for mammary reconstruction subsequent to breast tumor resection.