Human skin-derived Nestin+ cells serve as a convenient source for autologous, adult, pluripotent progenitor cells that offer new therapeutic possibilities in cell-based regenerative medicine. However, the isolation of human Nestin+ cells has tended to be of very low efficiency and to produce highly variable cell yields. Here we report a standardised protocol that facilitates the isolation and enrichment of Nestin+ progenitor cells from enzymatically digested adult human scalp dermis. The use of distinct media like Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium supplemented with foetal bovine serum or, alternatively, serum-free, supplemented neural stem cell medium greatly affected cell morphology, proliferation and differentiation (e.g. towards a neural versus mesenchymal phenotype). Finally, Nestin+ cells were isolated from a heterogeneous dermis-derived progenitor cell population, which proliferates within clones or floating microspheres under defined serum-free culture conditions. Supplementation of the medium with epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor as well as coating with fibronectin allowed the highest enrichment level of Nestin+ progenitors and differentiation towards neural fate. These methodological advances should greatly facilitate the isolation, culture and targeted differentiation of primary, adult human scalp skin dermis-derived Nestin+ cells. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.