Bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMNCs) are widely used in regenerative medicine, but recent data suggests that the isolation of BMNCs by commonly used Ficoll-Paque density gradient centrifugation (DGC) causes significant cell loss and influences graft function. The objective of this study was to determine in an animal study whether and how Ficoll-Paque DGC affects the yield and composition of BMNCs compared to alternative isolation methods such as adjusted Percoll DGC or immunomagnetic separation of polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs). Each isolation procedure was confounded by a significant loss of BMNCs that was maximal after Ficoll-Paque DGC, moderate after adjusted Percoll DGC and least after immunomagnetic PMN depletion (25.6±5.8%, 51.5±2.3 and 72.3±6.7% recovery of total BMNCs in lysed bone marrow). Interestingly, proportions of BMNC subpopulations resembled those of lysed bone marrow indicating symmetric BMNC loss independent from the isolation protocol. Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) content, determined by colony-forming units for granulocytes-macrophages (CFU-GM), was significantly reduced after Ficoll-Paque DGC compared to Percoll DGC and immunomagnetic PMN depletion. Finally, in a proof-of-concept study, we successfully applied the protocol for BMNC isolation by immunodepletion to fresh human bone marrow aspirates. Our findings indicate that the common method to isolate BMNCs in both preclinical and clinical research can be considerably improved by replacing Ficoll-Paque DGC with adapted Percoll DGC, or particularly by immunodepletion of PMNs.