The cell of origin and triggering events for leukaemia are mostly unknown. Here we show that the bone marrow contains a progenitor that expresses renin throughout development and possesses a B-lymphocyte pedigree. This cell requires RBP-J to differentiate. Deletion of RBP-J in these renin-expressing progenitors enriches the precursor B-cell gene programme and constrains lymphocyte differentiation, facilitated by H3K4me3 activating marks in genes that control the pre-B stage. Mutant cells undergo neoplastic transformation, and mice develop a highly penetrant B-cell leukaemia with multi-organ infiltration and early death. These renin-expressing cells appear uniquely vulnerable as other conditional models of RBP-J deletion do not result in leukaemia. The discovery of these unique renin progenitors in the bone marrow and the model of leukaemia described herein may enhance our understanding of normal and neoplastic haematopoiesis.