The stepwise commitment from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow to T lymphocyte-restricted progenitors in the thymus represents a paradigm for understanding the requirement for distinct extrinsic cues during different stages of lineage restriction from multipotent to lineage-restricted progenitors. However, the commitment stage at which progenitors migrate from the bone marrow to the thymus remains unclear. Here we provide functional and molecular evidence at the single-cell level that the earliest progenitors in the neonatal thymus had combined granulocyte-monocyte, T lymphocyte and B lymphocyte lineage potential but not megakaryocyte-erythroid lineage potential. These potentials were identical to those of candidate thymus-seeding progenitors in the bone marrow, which were closely related at the molecular level. Our findings establish the distinct lineage-restriction stage at which the T cell lineage-commitment process transits from the bone marrow to the remote thymus.