Inbred laboratory mouse strains are highly divergent in their immune response patterns as a result of genetic mutations and polymorphisms. The generation of genetically engineered mice (GEM) has, in the past, used embryonic stem (ES) cells for gene targeting from various 129 substrains followed by backcrossing into more fecund mouse strains. Although common inbred mice are considered "immune competent," many have variations in their immune system-some of which have been described-that may affect the phenotype. Recognition of these immune variations among commonly used inbred mouse strains is essential for the accurate interpretation of expected phenotypes or those that may arise unexpectedly. In GEM developed to study specific components of the immune system, accurate evaluation of immune responses must take into consideration not only the gene of interest but also how the background strain and microbial milieu contribute to the manifestation of findings in these mice. This article discusses points to consider regarding immunological differences between the common inbred laboratory mouse strains, particularly in their use as background strains in GEM.