Concentration of mast-cell precursors in hematopoietic tissues of mouse embryos was evaluated by a limiting dilution method. Cells from yolk sacs, livers, and bodies of (WB x C57BL/6)F1 (hereafter called WBB6F1)- +/+ embryos were injected directly into the skin of adult WBB6F1-W/Wv mice which were genetically depleted of tissue mast cells. Concentration of mast-cell precursors was calculated from the proportion of injection sites at which mast cells did not appear. Since the concentration of mast-cell precursors in the yolk sac was about 30 times as great as that of embryonic body at Day 9.5 of the pregnancy, the mast-cell precursors seemed to be generated within the yolk sac. The concentration in the yolk sac reached the maximum level at Day 11, and then dropped markedly at Day 13. In contrast, mast-cell precursors increased from Day 11 to Day 15 in the fetal liver. As a result, the concentration of 11-day yolk sacs was comparable to that of 15-day fetal liver. Although intravenous injection of 15-day fetal liver cells (2 x 10(6)) rescued the general mast-cell depletion of WBB6F1-W/Wv mice, the intravenous injection of the same number of 11-day yolk sac cells did not rescue it. In contrast with fetal livers, yolk sacs scarcely contained hematopoietic stem cells which were measured by spleen colony formation. Therefore, the mast-cell precursors of the yolk sac may not originate from such stem cells.