We have previously shown that Sox7 was transiently expressed at the onset of blood specification and was implicated in the regulation of cell survival, proliferation, and maturation of hematopoietic precursors. Here, we assessed, using embryonic stem cell differentiation as a model system, whether Sox17 and Sox18, 2 close homologs of Sox7, may act similarly to Sox7 at the onset of hematopoietic development. Sox18-enforced expression led to the enhanced proliferation of early hematopoietic precursors while blocking their maturation, phenotype highly reminiscent of Sox7-enforced expression. In striking contrast, Sox17-enforced expression dramatically increased the apoptosis of these early precursors. Similarly to Sox7, Sox18 was transiently expressed during early hematopoiesis, but its expression was predominantly observed in CD41(+) cells, contrasting with Sox7, mostly expressed in Flk1(+) cells. Conversely, Sox17 remained marginally expressed during blood specification. Overall, our data uncover contrasting effect and expression pattern for Sox18 and Sox17 at the onset of hematopoiesis specification.