Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are expected to provide revolutionary therapeutic applications and drug discovery technologies. In order for this to be achieved a reproducible, defined animal component free culture system is required for the scale-up production of undifferentiated hESC. In this work we have investigated the applicability of a recombinantly produced domain of human vitronectin as an extracellular matrix alternative to the common standards Geltrex or Matrigel. In addition we have validated an ascorbate free media capable of supporting CD30(low) populations of hESC through a multi-factorial analysis of bFGF and Activin A. The recombinant vitronectin domain combined with the ascorbate free media were capable of supporting 3 cell lines, MEL1, MEL2 and hES3 for 10 or more passages while maintaining hESC pluripotency markers and differentiation capacity. The culture method outlined here provides a platform for future investigation into growth factor and extracellular matrix effects on hESC maintenance prior to bioreactor scale-up.