Germ cells were isolated from rabbit fetal gonads between 18 and 22 days post coitum and examined morphologically, ultrastructurally and for immunocytochemical and cytochemical characteristics. Observations were compared with the information available from the corresponding cells of other mammalian species. The general morphology and ultrastructure of healthy isolated rabbit fetal germ cells were found to be very similar to those of the rabbit and mouse diploid germ cells in situ. Moreover, rabbit fetal germ cells shared common immunocytochemical characteristics with mouse undifferentiated embryonic stem cells or embryonic carcinoma cells, such as the presence of TEC-1 (SSEA-1) antigens, a peripheral network of F-actin, the absence of cytokeratins 8/18 and lamins A/C and an alkaline phosphatase activity. No difference between the sexes was observed. Morphological and physiological similarities with the migrating and cultured primordial germ cells of the mouse also suggest that diploid rabbit germ cells would be good candidates for deriving pluripotential embryonic germ cells (EG cells) if favourable culture conditions could be found. In conclusion, the rabbit may be suitable model for investigations on EG cells in domestic mammals with delayed meiosis.