The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ, essential for T cell maturation and selection. There has been long-standing interest in processes underpinning thymus generation and the potential to manipulate it clinically, because alterations of thymus development or function can result in severe immunodeficiency and autoimmunity. Here, we identify epithelial-mesenchymal hybrid cells, capable of long-term expansion in vitro, and able to reconstitute an anatomic phenocopy of the native thymus, when combined with thymic interstitial cells and a natural decellularised extracellular matrix (ECM) obtained by whole thymus perfusion. This anatomical human thymus reconstruction is functional, as judged by its capacity to support mature T cell development in vivo after transplantation into humanised immunodeficient mice. These findings establish a basis for dissecting the cellular and molecular crosstalk between stroma, ECM and thymocytes, and offer practical prospects for treating congenital and acquired immunological diseases. The thymus is essential for T cell maturation and selection, and thymic defects result in severe immune problems. Here the authors identify a thymus cell population that is expandable in vitro, and can repopulate natural thymic matrix to generate tissue that supports mature T cell development in vitro and in vivo.