Neonatal and adult splenic cell suspensions were labeled with fluorescein isothiocynate-anti-Ig and fractionated into surface-immunoglobulin- (s-Ig) positive and s-Ig-negative subpopulations by the fluorescence-activated cell sorter. The subpopulations were then tested by splenic focus assay for both frequency and tolerance susceptibility of clonable 2,4,-dinitrophenol (DNP) precursors. It was shown that both adult, and neonatal, s-Ig-negative subsets contained clonable DNP-specific B-cell precursors. However, because these precursors result in fewer clones secreting IgG, they appeared to be less mature than the s-Ig-positive precursors. In the absence of helper T cells, it was found that exposure of s-Ig-negative lymphocytes to tolerogen during the process in which they were acquiring surface receptors resulted in nearly total abrogation of potential DNP clones. This finding provides compelling evidence for clonal abortion.