The SWI/SNF complex plays an important role in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), but it remains to be determined whether this complex is required for the pluripotency of human ESCs (hESCs). Using RNAi, we demonstrated that depletion of BRG1, the catalytic subunit of the SWI/SNF complex, led to impaired self-renewing ability and dysregulated lineage specification of hESCs. A unique composition of the BRG1-SWI/SNF complex in hESCs was further defined by the presence of BRG1, BAF250A, BAF170, BAF155, BAF53A, and BAF47. Genome-wide expression analyses revealed that BRG1 participated in a broad range of biological processes in hESCs through pathways different from those in mESCs. In addition, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) demonstrated that BRG1 played a repressive role in transcriptional regulation by modulating the acetylation levels of H3K27 at the enhancers of lineage-specific genes. Our data thus provide valuable insights into molecular mechanisms by which transcriptional repression affects the self-renewal and differentiation of hESCs.