The placenta is a temporal, dynamic and diverse organ with important immunological features that facilitate embryonic and fetal development and survival, notwithstanding the fact that several aspects of its formation and function closely resemble tumor progression. Placentation in mammals is commonly used to characterize the evolution of species, including insights into human evolution. Although most placentas are discarded after birth, they are a high-yield source for the isolation of stem/progenitor cells and are rich in extracellular matrix (ECM), representing an important resource for regenerative medicine purposes. Interactions among cells, ECM and bioactive molecules regulate tissue and organ generation and comprise the foundation of tissue engineering. In the present article, differences among several mammalian species regarding the placental types and classifications, phenotypes and potency of placenta-derived stem/progenitor cells, placental ECM components and current
placental ECM applications were reviewed to highlight their potential clinical and biomedical relevance.