The primary antibody response of mice to phosphorylcholine (PC) is dominated by antibodies using the T15 L chain. Anti-PC antibodies using the 511 L chain are prominent only in secondary responses to PC coupled to proteins, are somatically mutated, and all have an extra amino acid at the Vh-D junction, compared with T15 antibodies. The aim of the experiments reported here was to determine if the extra junctional amino acid alone was sufficient to generate a 511 PC-binding antibody, or if somatic mutation or other junctional changes were also necessary. We also wished to determine if unmutated 511 antibodies had sufficient affinity for PC to appear in the primary response. To increase the frequency of primary 511 antibodies, we generated a series of hybridomas from M167 L chain transgenic mice immunized 4 days earlier with either Streptococcus pneumonia R36a or PC-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). We determined the relative affinity of the antibodies, and sequenced their H chain V regions. The results showed that: 1) somatic mutations are not required for 511 antibodies to bind PC; 2) primary 511 antibodies all had lower relative affinities for PC than T15 while having similar affinities to T15 for TNP-aminophenyl PC, and higher affinities for the PC analogs nitrophenyl PC and choline; 3) all antibodies had the 511-specific insertion of an extra amino acid, usually Ala, at the VhD junction, compared with T15; 4) immunization with R36a, but not PC-hemocyanin, elicited antibodies with a specific Tyr----Asp substitution in the D region, indicating Ag selection based on fine specificity differences; 5) the total length of CDR3 was conserved in most anti-PC-hemocyanin antibodies, whereas the anti-R36a antibodies predominantly had longer CDR3 sequences; and 6) there were unique substitutions in most antibodies, including significant sequence heterogeneity in the D-Jh junction. We conclude that Ag selection on the basis of affinity for PC biases the primary anti-PC response in favor of T15, and that 511 precursors with their alternative fine specificities contribute the precursors that are expanded in the secondary anti-PC-KLH responses.