We produced pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus embryos at five pre‐hatch developmental stages and isolated and quantified genomic DNA from four of the stages using four commercial DNA isolation kits. Genomic DNA prepared using the kit that produced the largest yields and concentrations were used for microsatellite DNA analyses of 10–20 embryos at each of the five developmental stages. We attempted to genotype the hatchery‐produced embryos at 19 microsatellite loci and confirmed reliable genotyping by comparing the microsatellite genotypes to those of known parents. Embryos at stages 5 and 8 did not produce reliable genotyping while those at stages 14, 24 and 33 did. We used the same DNA isolation method on 262 wild‐caught acipenseriform embryos collected from the lower Yellowstone River. A total of 200 of the wild embryos were successfully identified to stages 8 to 34 and the rest could not be staged. Using a combination of single nucleotide polymorphism and microsatellite markers, 249 of the wild‐caught embryos were genetically identified as paddlefish Polyodon spathula , five were identified as shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus and eight failed to amplify. None were identified as pallid sturgeon. This study demonstrates that early‐stage wild‐spawned acipenseriform embryos can be genetically identified less than 24 h post‐spawn. This methodology will be useful for recovery efforts for endangered pallid sturgeon and can be applied to other acipenseriform species.