Germline stem cells that produce oocytes in vitro and fertilization-competent eggs in vivo have been identified in and isolated from adult mouse ovaries. Here we describe and validate a FACS-based protocol that can be used with adult mouse ovaries and human ovarian cortical tissue to purify rare mitotically-active cells that exhibit a gene expression profile consistent with primitive germ cells. Once established in vitro, these cells can be expanded for months and spontaneously generate 35–50 µm oocytes, as determined by morphology, gene expression and attainment of haploid (1 n) status. Injection of the human germline cells, engineered to stably express GFP, into human ovarian cortical biopsies leads to formation of follicles containing GFP-positive oocytes 1–2 weeks after xenotransplantation into immunodeficient female mice. Thus, ovaries of reproductive-age women, like adult mice, possess rare mitotically-active germ cells that can be propagated in vitro as well as generate oocytes in vitro and in vivo.