Directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into any desired cell type has been hailed as a therapeutic promise to cure many human diseases. However, substantial roadblocks still exist for in vitro differentiation of hESCs into distinct cell types, including T lymphocytes. Here we examined the hematopoietic differentiation potential of six different hESC lines. We compare their ability to develop into CD34(+) or CD34(+)CD45(+) hematopoietic precursor populations under several differentiation conditions. Comparison of lymphoid potential of hESC derived- and fetal tissue derived-hematopoietic precursors was also made. We found diverse hematopoietic potential between hESC lines depending on the culture or passage conditions. In contrast to fetal-derived hematopoietic precursors, none of the CD34(+) precursors differentiated from hESCs were able to develop further into T cells. These data underscore the difficulties in the current strategy of hESC forward differentiation and highlight distinct differences between CD34(+) hematopoietic precursors generated in vitro versus in vivo.