In contrast to their almost unlimited potential for expansion in vivo and despite years of dedicated research and optimization of expansion protocols, the expansion of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in vitro remains remarkably limited. Increased understanding of the mechanisms that are involved in maintenance, expansion and differentiation of HSCs will enable the development of better protocols for expansion of HSCs. This will allow procurement of HSCs with long-term engraftment potential and a better understanding of the effects of the external influences in and on the hematopoietic niche that may affect HSC function. During collection and culture of HSCs, the cells are exposed to suboptimal conditions that may induce different levels of stress and ultimately affect their self-renewal, differentiation and long-term engraftment potential. Some of these stress factors include normoxia, oxidative stress, extra-physiologic oxygen shock/stress (EPHOSS), endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, replicative stress, and stress related to DNA damage. Coping with these stress factors may help reduce the negative effects of cell culture on HSC potential, provide a better understanding of the true impact of certain treatments in the absence of confounding stress factors. This may facilitate the development of better ex vivo expansion protocols of HSCs with long-term engraftment potential without induction of stem cell exhaustion by cellular senescence or loss of cell viability. This review summarizes some of the available strategies that may be used to protect HSCs from culture-induced stress conditions.