Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based regenerative therapy is currently regarded as a novel approach with which to repair damaged tissues. However, the efficiency of MSC transplantation is limited due to the low survival rate of engrafted MSCs. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) production is increased in numerous diseases and serves an essential function in the regulation of apoptosis in a variety of cell types. Previous studies have indicated that low-dose LPS pretreatment contributes to cytoprotection. In the current study, LPS was demonstrated to induce apoptosis in human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) via the activation of caspase, in a dose-dependent manner. Low-dose LPS pretreatment may protect hUCMSCs against apoptosis induced by high-dose LPS, by upregulating the expression of cellular FADD-like IL-1β-converting enzyme-inhibitory protein (c-FLIP). The results of the present study indicate that pretreatment with an appropriate concentration of LPS may alleviate high-dose LPS-induced apoptosis.