Signaling through fibroblast growth factor receptor one (FGFR1) is a known inducer of proliferation in both embryonic and human adult mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and positively regulates maintenance of stem cell viability. Leveraging the mitogenic potential of FGF2/FGFR1 signaling in stem cells for therapeutic applications necessitates a mechanistic understanding of how this receptor stimulates cell cycle progression. Using small interfering RNA (siRNA) depletion, antibody-inhibition, and small molecule inhibition, we establish that FGFR1 activity is rate limiting for self-renewal of hMSCs. We show that FGFR1 promotes stem cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms that unite to antagonize cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. FGFR1 not only stimulates c-Myc to suppress transcription of the CDK inhibitors p21(Waf1) and p27(Kip1), thus promoting cell cycle progression but also increases the activity of protein kinase B (AKT) and the level of S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2), resulting in the nuclear exclusion and reduction of p21(Waf1). The in vivo importance of FGFR1 signaling for the control of proliferation in mesenchymal progenitor populations is underscored by defects in ventral mesoderm formation during development upon inhibition of its signaling. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that FGFR1 signaling mediates the continuation of MSC growth and establishes a receptor target for enhancing the expansion of mesenchymal progenitors while maintaining their multilineage potential.