The number of primordial follicles initially established within the ovary is influenced by the extent of germ cell death during foetal ovarian development, but the mechanisms that mediate this death have not been fully uncovered. In this study, we identified BBC3 (PUMA) (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis, also known as BCL2-binding component 3), a pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein belonging to the BCL2 family, as a critical determinant of the number of germ cells during ovarian development. Targeted disruption of the Bbc3 gene revealed a significant increase in the number of germ cells as early as embryonic day 13.5. The number of germ cells remained elevated in Bbc3(-/-) female mice compared with WT female mice throughout the remainder of embryonic and early postnatal life, resulting in a 1.9-fold increase in the number of primordial follicles in the ovary on postnatal day 10. The increase in the number of germ cells observed in the ovaries of Bbc3(-/-) mice could not be attributed to the altered proliferative activity of germ cells within the ovaries. Furthermore, BBC3 was found to be not required for the massive germ cell loss that occurs during germ cell nest breakdown. Our data indicate that BBC3 is a critical regulator of germ cell death that acts during the migratory phase of oogenesis or very soon after the arrival of germ cells in the gonad and that BBC3-mediated cell death limits the number of primordial follicles established in the initial ovarian reserve.