Telomerase activity is essential for the continued growth and survival of malignant cells, therefore inhibition of this activity presents an attractive target for anti-cancer therapy. The telomerase inhibitor GRN163L, was shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) also show telomerase activity in maintaining their self-renewal; therefore the effects of telomerase inhibitors on MSCs may be an issue of concern. MSCs are multipotent cells and are important for the homeostasis of the organism. In this study, we sought to demonstrate in vitro effects of GRN163L on rat MSCs. When MSCs were treated with 1 A mu M GRN163L, their phenotype changed from spindle-shaped cells to rounded ones and detached from the plate surface, similar to cancer cells. Quantitative-RT-PCR and immunoblotting results revealed that GRN163L holds MSCs at the G1 state of the cell cycle, with a drastic decrease in mRNA and protein levels of cyclin D1 and its cdk counterparts, cdk4 and cdk6. This effect was not observed when MSCs were treated with a mismatch control oligonucleotide. One week after GRN163L was removed, mRNA and protein expressions of the genes, as well as the phenotype of MSCs returned to those of untreated cells. Therefore, we concluded that GRN163L does not interfere with the self-renewal and differentiation of MSCs under short term in vitro culture conditions. Our study provides additional support for treating cancers by administrating GRN163L without depleting the body's stem cell pools.