During V(D)J recombination, the coding ends to be joined are extensively modified. Those modifications, termed coding-end processing, consist of removal and addition of various numbers of nucleotides. We previously showed in vivo that coding-end processing is specific for each coding end, suggesting that specific motifs in a coding-end sequence influence nucleotide deletion and P-region formation. In this study, we created a panel of recombination substrates containing actual immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor coding-end sequences and dissected the role of each motif by comparing its processing pattern with those of variants containing minimal nucleotide changes from the original sequence. Our results demonstrate the determinant role of specific sequence motifs on coding-end processing and also the importance of the context in which they are found. We show that minimal nucleotide changes in key positions of a coding-end sequence can result in dramatic changes in the processing pattern. We propose that each coding-end sequence dictates a unique hairpin structure, the result of a particular energy conformation between nucleotides organizing the loop and the stem, and that the interplay between this structure and specific sequence motifs influences the frequency and location of nicks which open the coding-end hairpin. These findings indicate that the sequences of the coding ends determine their own processing and have a profound impact on the development of the primary B- and T-cell repertoires.