As you might think, given the question, the answer is typically as ambiguous as you like; it could be lab rats, it could be kidnapped people (given the central city location of his lab, it would most likely be the former, unless he also had test facilities elsewhere in more remote, clandestine locations). Given the lack of information in the movie other than the direct reference from Stern, and the inferences from the locale, you can only speculate.
My personal opinion would be lab rats; Stern wouldn't have been able to have large amounts of Banner's blood (accessibility/cost, storage etc.) and would want to be able to provide large doses to see different effects. Between trying to get a larger amount of blood or using smaller test subjects, I'd think the latter would be better.
Scientifically, it would be better to use lab rats, where you would get a more consistent set of data from particular litters, rather than kidnap victims, who could have any number of issues (diagnosed and undiagnosed) that could skew results.
Economically, lab rats don't have to be maintained on the same level as human test subjects; one bag of suitable food would keep a lot more rats going than humans with their typical dietary requirements.
Lab rats also don't try to call for help or cause legal problems/contact the authorities when they escape; Stern isn't necessarily evil at this point, but in the film he should be smart enough to know his options and pick the less risky one from a legal standpoint.
As an aside, the marvel canon doesn't have the Leader (the Hulk villain whom Samuel Sterns becomes) either as a "man of intellect", or as someone who experiments with the Hulk's blood (at least until much, much later in their history together), until he actually becomes the Leader.
Leader (comics) - Wikipedia