The blood and immune systems develop in parallel during early prenatal life. Waves of hematopoiesis separated in anatomical space and time give rise to circulating and tissue-resident immune cells. Previous observations have relied on animal models, which differ from humans in both their developmental timeline and exposure to microorganisms. Decoding the composition of the human immune system is now tractable using single-cell multi-omics approaches. Large-scale single-cell genomics, imaging technologies, and the Human Cell Atlas initiative have together enabled a systemslevel mapping of the developing human immune system and its emergent properties. Although the precise roles of specific immune cells during development require further investigation, the system as a whole displays malleable and responsive properties according to developmental need and environmental challenge.