Tendons have limited reparative ability and perform a relatively simple mechanical function via the extracellular matrix. Thus, the injured tendon might be treated successfully by stem cell transplantation. We performed a randomized, controlled study to investigate the effects of mesenchymal stem cell injection for treating partial tears in the supraspinatus tendon. We enrolled 24 patients with shoulder pain lasting more than 3 months and partial tears in the supraspinatus tendon. Participants were assigned to three groups: stem cells in fibrin glue, normal saline/fibrin glue mixture, and normal saline only, with which intra-lesional injection was performed. Pain at activity and rest, shoulder function and tear size were evaluated. For safety measures, laboratory tests were taken and adverse events were recorded at every visit. Participants were followed up at 6, 12 weeks, 6, 12 months and 2 years after injection. The primary outcome measure was the improvement in pain at activity at 3 months after injection. Twenty-three patients were included in the final analysis. Primary outcome did not differ among groups (p = 0.35). A mixed effect model revealed no statistically significant interactions. Only time significantly predicted the outcome measure. All participants reported transient pain at the injection site. There were no differences in post-injection pain duration or severity. Safety measures did not differ between groups, and there were no persistent adverse events. Stem cell injection into supraspinatus partial tears in patients with shoulder pain lasting more than 3 months was not more effective than control injections.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02298023.