Transitional B cells turn over rapidly in vivo and are sensitive to apoptosis upon BCR ligation in vitro. However, little direct evidence addresses their tolerance sensitivity in vivo. A key marker used to distinguish these cells is IgD, which, through alternative RNA splicing of H chain transcripts, begins to be coexpressed with IgM at this stage. IgD is also expressed at high levels on naive follicular (B-2) and at lower levels on marginal zone and B-1 B cells. In this study, mice were generated to ubiquitously express a membrane-bound IgD-superantigen. These mice supported virtually no B-2 development, a greatly reduced marginal zone B cell population, but a relatively normal B-1 compartment. B cell development in the spleen abruptly halted at the transitional B cell population 1 to 2 stage, a block that could not be rescued by either Bcl-2 or BAFF overexpression. The developmentally arrested B cells appeared less mature and turned over more rapidly than nontransgenic T2 cells, exhibiting neither conventional features of anergy nor appreciable receptor editing. Paradoxically, type-2 T-independent responses were more robust in the transgenic mice, although T-dependent responses were reduced and had skewed IgL and IgH isotype usages. Nevertheless, an augmented memory response to secondary challenge was evident. The transgenic mice also had increased serum IgM, but diminished IgG, levels mirrored by the increased numbers of IgM(+) plasma cells. This model should facilitate studies of peripheral B cell tolerance, with the advantages of allowing analysis of polyclonal populations, and of B cells naturally lacking IgD.