Human omphalocele is a congenital defect of the abdominal wall in which the secondary abdominal wall structures (muscle and connective tissue) in an area centered around the umbilicus are replaced by a translucent membranous layer of tissue. Histological examination of omphalocele development and moreover the staging of normal human abdominal wall development has never been described. We hypothesized that omphalocele is the result of an arrest in the secondary abdominal wall development and predicted that we would observe delays in myoblast maturation and an arrest in secondary abdominal wall development. To look for evidence in support of our hypothesis, we performed a histological analysis of normal human abdominal wall development and compared this to mouse. We also conducted the first histological analysis of two human specimens with omphalocele. In these two omphalocele specimens, secondary abdominal wall development appears to have undergone an arrest around Carnegie Stage 19. In both specimens disruptions in the unidirectional orientation of myofibers were observed in the external and internal obliques, and rectus abdominis but not in the transversus abdominis. These latter findings support a model of normal abdominal wall development in which positional information instructs the orientation of myoblasts as they organize into individual muscle groups. Anat Rec, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.