B-1 (CD5+) B cells constitute a phenotypic and functionally distinct population of B cells in mouse that show enriched expression of autoreactive B-cell antigen receptors and that produce several types of natural autoantibodies. Recently, there has been much progress in this field of research. Evidence has appeared for the existence of distinctive B-cell precursors that preferentially generate B-1 B cells, and the crucial requirement for strong B-cell antigen receptor signaling in the maturation of B-1 B cells has been established. Other work focuses on a phenotypically similar population that lacks CD5, termed 'B-1b', which shows similarities and differences from most CD5+ B cells in both development and function. The relationship of normal B-1 cells with B-cell lymphomas and leukemias continues to be a subject of interest and debate.