Optimization of stem cell therapy after cardiovascular and renal injury depends on many factors, among which is stem cell donor health. The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) plays an important role in cardiovascular and renal homoeostasis and pathophysiology. It is becoming increasingly clear that the RAS affects the therapeutic performance of stem cells. In this issue of Clinical Science, Kankuri et al. dig deeper into the consequences of excessive angiotensin II signalling and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation in the stem cell donor, applying a model of regenerative medicine after renal injury.