In the mouse embryonic maxilla, rudimentary tooth primordia have been identified, which can be mistaken for the first upper molar. In order to determine whether such a situation might exist in the lower jaw as well, tooth development was investigated in the mouse mandibular cheek region during ED 12.5-15.0. A combination of histology, morphometry and computer-aided 3D reconstructions demonstrated the existence of rudimentary dental structures, whose gradual appearance and regression was associated with the segmental progress of odontogenesis along the mesio-distal axis of the jaw: 1) At ED 12.5, the mesial segment (MS) was the most prominent part of the dental epithelial invagination. It included an asymmetrically budding dental lamina. The MS, although generally mistaken for the lower first molar (M1, primordium, regressed and did not finally participate in M1 cap formation. 2) At ED 13.5, a wide dental bud (called segment R2) appeared distally to the MS. Although the R2 segment transiently represented the predominant part of the dental epithelium at ED13.5, it participated only in the formation of the mesial end of the M1 cap. 3) The top of the R2 segment at ED13.5 was not the precursor of the enamel knot (EK), contrary to what has been assumed. 4) The central segment of the M1 cap as well as the EK developed later and distally to the R2 segment. 5) Time-space specific apoptosis correlated with the retardation in growth of the R2 segment as well as with strong regressive changes in the epithelium situated mesially to it. These highlight the need to reinterpret current molecular data on early M1 development in the mouse in order to correlate the expression of signalling molecules with specific morphogenetic events in the appropriate antemolar or molar segments of the embryonic mandible.