This paper describes the initial appearance and distribution of mature T and B cells in the developing immune tissues of the stripe-faced dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura) based on the use of species cross-reactive antibodies to the lymphocyte cell surface markers CD3, CD5 and CD79b. At birth no mature T or B cells were detected in the liver or bone marrow using anti-CD3, anti-CD5 or anti-CD79b antibodies. T cells were detected in the thymus with anti-CD3 by day 12 and anti-CD5 by day 50 postpartum, and T cells in the spleen were detected by day 43 and day 80 postpartum using anti-CD3 and anti-CD5, respectively. B cells were observed in the dunnart spleen by 43 days after birth. CD3- and CD79b-positive cells were detected in the lymph nodes by 50 days and CD5 by day 15 after birth, and in the gut-associated lymphoid tissues by day 50 and anti-CD5 by day 57 postpartum. The development and distribution of T and B cells in the immune tissues of dunnart pouch young is similar to that described in other marsupial species. Low numbers or absence of mature lymphocytes in immune tissues of early pouch young dunnarts further support the proposition that young marsupials are reliant on non-specific defence strategies and/or maternal strategies for a significant period of their time of development in the pouch.