We have demonstrated previously that the majority ( > 90%) of VH12 B cells are absent from the adult peripheral repertoire, and that most that remain have the fourth position at the D-J function (designated 10/G4). We report here that most VH 12-expressing pre-B cells are lost during the transition from the pre-BI to the pre-BII cell stage in normal mice, and that pre-BII cell productive (P) rearrangements ar enriched in 10/G4 CDR3. This coincides with the initial expression of H chain and the generation of the mu/surrogate L chain (SL) receptor. In contrast, there is not enrichment for 10/G4 CDR3 in mu MT mice, and the frequency of P rearrangements is as expected from a random rearrangement mechanism, ruling out a biased rearrangement mechanism unique to VH12. We have also demonstrated that non-10/G4 mu chains can associate with SL and be expressed on the cell surface, suggesting that they are available on the cell surface for selection. Thus, transition of pre-BI to pre-BII cells is dependent on the structure of the VH domain.