Breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) are cancer cells with inherited or acquired stem cell-like characteristics. Despite their low frequency, they are major contributors to breast cancer initiation, relapse, metastasis and therapy resistance. It is imperative to understand the biology of breast cancer stem cells in order to identify novel therapeutic targets to treat breast cancer. Breast cancer stem cells are isolated and characterized based on expression of unique cell surface markers such as CD44, CD24 and enzymatic activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These ALDHCD44CD24 cells constitute the BCSC population and can be isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) for downstream functional studies. Depending on the scientific question, different in vitro and in vivo methods can be used to assess the functional characteristics of BCSCs. Here, we provide a detailed experimental protocol for isolation of human BCSCs from both heterogenous populations of breast cancer cells as well as primary tumor tissue obtained from breast cancer patients. In addition, we highlight downstream in vitro and in vivo functional assays including colony forming assays, mammosphere assays, 3D culture models and tumor xenograft assays that can be used to assess BCSC function.