The components of the immune system have not been traditionally emphasized as potential target organs in standard developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) protocols. A number of workshops have been organized in recent years to examine scientific questions that underlie developmental immunotoxicity tests, and the interpretation of results as they relate to human risk assessment. A key question that must be addressed is to determine the most appropriate species and strains to model the developing human immune system. The objective of this review is to compare the anatomical and functional development of the immune system in several species important to either preclinical studies for drug development or safety assessments for chemicals, with what is known in humans. The development of the immune system in humans will be compared to what is known in mice, rats, dogs and nonhuman primates.