Primordial germ cells (PGCs), the precursors of sperm and eggs, are established in perigastrulation-stage embryos in mammals. Signals from extra-embryonic tissues induce a unique gene regulatory network in germline-competent cells for PGC specification. This network also initiates comprehensive epigenome resetting, including global DNA demethylation and chromatin reorganization. Mouse germline development has been studied extensively, but the extent to which such knowledge applies to humans was unclear. Here, we review the latest advances in human PGC specification and epigenetic reprogramming. The overall developmental dynamics of human and mouse germline cells appear to be similar, but there are crucial mechanistic differences in PGC specification, reflecting divergence in the regulation of pluripotency and early development.