The peri-implantation window of mammalian development is the crucial window for primordial germ cell (PGC) specification. Whereas pre-implantation dynamics are relatively conserved between species, the implantation window marks a stage of developmental divergence between key model organisms, and thus potential variance in the cell and molecular mechanisms for PGC specification. In humans, PGC specification is very difficult to study in vivo. To address this, the combined use of human and nonhuman primate embryos, and stem cell-based embryo models are essential for determining the origin of PGCs, as are comparative analyses to the equivalent stages of mouse development. Understanding the origin of PGCs in the peri-implantation embryo is crucial not only for accurate modeling of this essential process using stem cells, but also in determining the role of global epigenetic reprogramming upon which sex-specific differentiation into gametes relies.