Cell misidentification and cross-contamination have plagued biomedical research for as long as cells have been employed as research tools. Examples of misidentified cell lines continue to surface to this day. Efforts to eradicate the problem by raising awareness of the issue and by asking scientists voluntarily to take appropriate actions have not been successful. Unambiguous cell authentication is an essential step in the scientific process and should be an inherent consideration during peer review of papers submitted for publication or during review of grants submitted for funding. In order to facilitate proper identity testing, accurate, reliable, inexpensive, and standardized methods for authentication of cells and cell lines must be made available. To this end, an international team of scientists is, at this time, preparing a consensus standard on the authentication of human cells using short tandem repeat (STR) profiling. This standard, which will be submitted for review and approval as an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute, will provide investigators guidance on the use of STR profiling for authenticating human cell lines. Such guidance will include methodological detail on the preparation of the DNA sample, the appropriate numbers and types of loci to be evaluated, and the interpretation and quality control of the results. Associated with the standard itself will be the establishment and maintenance of a public STR profile database under the auspices of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The consensus standard is anticipated to be adopted by granting agencies and scientific journals as appropriate methodology for authenticating human cell lines, stem cells, and tissues.