Recent findings strongly suggest that the molecular pathways involved in the development and function of blood cells are highly conserved among vertebrates and various invertebrate phyla. This has led to a renewed interest regarding homologies between blood cell types and their developmental origin among different animals. One way to address these areas of inquiry is to shed more light on the biology of blood cells in extant invertebrate taxa that have branched off the bilaterian tree in between insects and vertebrates. This review attempts, in a broadly comparative manner, to update the existing literature that deals with early blood cell development. I begin by providing a brief survey of the different types of blood cell lineages among metazoa. There is now good reason to believe that, in vertebrates and invertebrates alike, blood cell lineages diverge from a common type of progenitor cell, the hemocytoblast. I give a synopsis of the origin and determination of the hematocytoblast, beginning with a look at the hematopoietic organs that house hemocytoblasts in adult animals, followed by a more detailed overview of the embryonic development of the hematopoietic organ. Finally, I compare the process of blood lineage diversification in vertebrates and Drosophila.