We have analyzed the phenotypic characteristics and IgH gene rearrangements in a panel of EBV-transformed B lineage cell lines from human fetal liver and bone marrow. Some lines contained only populations of immature, Ig- Be cells, while others contained mixed populations of mature and immature B cells. The majority of identifiable IgH rearrangements involved joining of the most JH-proximal D segment, DQ52, to various JH segments, implying that DQ52 is a preferred target for initial DJH rearrangements. Three other rearrangements involving VH-related sequences were also characterized. Two involved VHDJH joining using VH3 genes, although one of these had a very unusual DJH structure. The third consisted of inverted 3' signal sequences and flanking regions of a VH4 gene appended to a JH. The mechanisms by which the later rearrangement could have occurred and its potential physiological significance are discussed.