Macrophages are phagocytic immune cells resident in every tissue that are not only important for host defence, but are also involved in tissue homeostasis, injury, and disease. Despite increasingly sophisticated methods for in vitro macrophage isolation, expansion and activation over the past three decades, these have largely been restricted to modelling bone-marrow or blood-derived cells. The in vitro derivation of macrophages from human pluripotent stem cells provides new opportunities to study macrophage biology, including the factors that impact human myeloid development and those that induce macrophage activation. While sharing many of the functional characteristics of monocyte-derived macrophages, stem cell-derived macrophages may offer new opportunities to understand the role of development or tissue context in innate immune cell function. Immune responsiveness to pathogenic challenge is known to be impacted by a macrophage's history of prior exposure, as well as ontogeny and tissue context. Therefore, we explore the factors of in vitro derivation likely to influence macrophage phenotype and function.