In mouse and human, the regulated development of antibody repertoire diversity during ontogeny proceeds in parallel with the development of the ability to generate antibodies to an array of specific antigens. Compared to adult, the human fetal antibody repertoire limits N addition and uses specifically positioned VDJ gene segments more frequently, including V6-1 the most DH-proximal VH, DQ52, the most JH-proximal DH, and JH2, which is DH-proximal. The murine fetal antibody repertoire also limits the incorporation of N nucleotides and uses its most DH proximal VH, VH81X, more frequently. To test whether DH and JH also follow the pattern observed in human, we used the scheme of Hardy to sort B lineage cells from BALB/c fetal and neonatal liver, RT-PCR cloned and sequenced V H7183-containing VDJCμ transcripts, and then assessed V H7183-DH-JH and complementary determining region 3 of the immunoglobulin heavy chain (CDR-H3) content in comparison to the previously studied adult BALB/c mouse repertoire. Due to the deficiency in N nucleotide addition, perinatal CDR-H3s manifested a distinct pattern of amino acid usage and predicted loop structures. As in the case of adult bone marrow, we observed a focusing of CDR-H3 length and CDR-H3 loop hydrophobicity, especially in the transition from the early to late pre-B cell stage, a developmental checkpoint associated with expression of the pre-B cell receptor. However, fetal liver usage of JH-proximal DHQ52 and D H-proximal JH2 was markedly greater than that of adult bone marrow. Thus, the early pattern of DH and JH usage in mouse feta liver mirrors that of human. © 2010 The Author(s).