The cellular and molecular events that drive the early development of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) remain poorly understood. We show that the transcription factor TCF-1 is required for the efficient generation of all known adult ILC subsets and their precursors. Using novel reporter mice, we identified a new subset of early ILC progenitors (EILPs) expressing high amounts of TCF-1. EILPs lacked efficient T and B lymphocyte potential but efficiently gave rise to NK cells and all known adult helper ILC lineages, indicating that they are the earliest ILC-committed progenitors identified so far. Our results suggest that upregulation of TCF-1 expression denotes the earliest stage of ILC fate specification. The discovery of EILPs provides a basis for deciphering additional signals that specify ILC fate.