During the brief appearance Thursday, Zimmerman stood up straight and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney.
The judge said an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.
Zimmerman was charged after a public campaign to make an arrest in the Feb. 26 shooting, which has galvanized the nation for weeks. Some legal experts had expected Zimmerman to face a lesser count of manslaughter and say a prosecutor will face steep hurdles to win a murder conviction. Zimmerman has claimed that he fired in self-defense.
Bluestein reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Suzanne Gamboa in Washington, Gary Fineout in Jacksonville, Fla.; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Fla.; Curt Anderson in Miami, Kyle Hightower in Sanford, Fla.; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla.; also contributed to this article.