We characterized the lymphocyte phenotype and the ability to produce Ig by lamina propria (LP) cells from rat ileum throughout the suckling period. In the first week after birth, <10% of LP lymphocytes were B cells, but at weaning, this figure rose to >30% as found in the adult. These B cells did not bear surface IgA (sIgA−). However, the number of sIgA+, which may correspond to B blast cells because they were outside lymphocyte cytometer gate, increased. In LP, IgM-secreting cells (SC) appeared during the second week of life, and IgA-SC were detected later but at a lower number. Regarding LP T cells, CD8+ cells were more abundant than CD4+ cells along the first 2 postnatal weeks, and CD3+CD8αα+TCRαβ+CD5-CD25− was their predominating phenotype. In this 2-wk period, between 8 and 20% of LP were natural killer cells. LP CD4+ lymphocytes in neonatal rats showed increasing co-expression of TCRαβ, whereas the co-expression of CD90 decreased and the CD4+CD25+ cell percentage did not achieve adult values. In conclusion, in the first 2 wk of the rat life, the gut LP immune system shows abundant CD8αα+ cells, including NK cells. Thereafter, LP B cells increase dramatically and Ig-SC appear, with IgM-SC being more abundant than IgA-SC. CD4+ LP lymphocytes acquire a mature phenotype and adult proportions later after weaning.