Cells are fundamental units of life, but little is known about evolution of cell states. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are once differentiated cells that have been re-programmed to an embryonic stem cell-like state, providing a powerful platform for biology and medicine. However, they have been limited to a few mammalian species. Here we found that a set of four mammalian transcription factor genes used to generate iPSCs in mouse and humans can induce a partially reprogrammed pluripotent stem cell (PRPSCs) state in vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms, in mammals, birds, fish, and fly, which span 550 million years from a common ancestor. These findings are one of the first to show cross-lineage stem cell-like induction, and to generate pluripotent-like cells for several of these species with in vivo chimeras. We suggest that the stem-cell state may be highly conserved across a wide phylogenetic range.