During mouse development, the first lymphohematopoietic precursor cells and myeloid or erythroid cell lineage-determined cells can be detected in the yolk sac at days 8-8.5 of gestation. The characteristics of the cells that give rise to these yolk sac primitive lymphohematopoietic cells and the molecular events controlling this process remain poorly defined. We show here that cell suspensions from day 7 early-mid-primitive streak stage embryo proper generated early immature PgP-1+ Joro 177+ Lin- hematopoietic cells and some Mac-1+ myeloid and TER 119+ erythroid cells after co-culture with the yolk sac-derived stromal cell line YS6 without addition of exogenous cytokines. Purified Lin- hematopoietic cells generated in these cultures did not express genes known to be transcribed at early stages of lymphoid, myeloid or erythroid cell differentiation and were able to give rise to T and B lymphocytes, myeloid cells and erythroid cells after appropriate further induction in vitro. Several cell lines were established in culture with a mixture of four cytokines from the PgP-1+ Joro 177+ Lin- cell population. The cell lines shared phenotypic and genotypic characteristics with the PgP-1+ Joro 177+ Lin- cell population generated in culture from day 7 embryo proper and they were able to reconstitute the lymphohematopoietic system of irradiated mice. Taken together these results support a model of lymphohematopoiesis in which cells from day 7 early-mid-primitive streak mouse embryo proper migrate and colonize the visceral yolk sac. There they generate primitive lymphohematopoietic precursor cells and the first erythroid and myeloid hematopoietic cells under the influence of yolk sac stromal cells like the YS6 cells described here.