During mouse development, primordial germ cells (PGCs) that give rise to the entire germ line are first identified within the proximal epiblast. However, long-term tracing of the fate of the cells has not been done wherein all cells in and around the germ-cell lineage are identified. Also, quantitative estimates of the number of founder PGCs using different models have come up with various numbers. Here, we use tetrachimeric mice to show that the progenitor numbers for the entire germ line in adult testis, and for the initiating embryonic PGCs, are both 4 cells. Although they proliferate to form polyclonal germ-cell populations in fetal and neonatal testes, germ cells that actually contribute to adult spermatogenesis originate from a small number of secondary founder cells that originate in the fetal period. The rest of the "deciduous" germ cells are lost, most likely by apoptosis, before the reproductive period. The second "actual" founder germ cells generally form small numbers of large monoclonal areas in testes by the reproductive period. Our results also demonstrate that there is no contribution of somatic cells to the male germ cell pool during development or in adulthood. These results suggest a model of 2-step oligoclonal development of male germ cells in mice, the second step distinguishing the heritable germ line from cells selected not to participate in forming the next generation.