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Optimal binary labelings, input distributions, and input alphabets are analyzed for the so-called bit-interleaved coded modulation (BICM) capacity, paying special attention to the low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) regime. For 8-ary pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) and for 0.75 bit/symbol, the folded binary code results in a higher capacity than the binary reflected Gray code (BRGC) and the natural binary code (NBC). The 1 dB gap between the additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) capacity and the BICM capacity with the BRGC can be almost completely removed if the input symbol distribution is properly selected. First-order asymptotics of the BICM capacity for arbitrary input alphabets and distributions, dimensions, mean, variance, and binary labeling are developed. These asymptotics are used to define first-order optimal (FOO) constellations for BICM, i.e., constellations that make BICM achieve the Shannon limit -1.59 dB. It is shown that the Eb/N0 required for reliable transmission at asymptotically low rates in BICM can be as high as infinity, that for uniform input distributions and 8-PAM there are only 72 classes of binary labelings with a different first-order asymptotic behavior, and that this number is reduced to only 26 for 8-ary phase shift keying (PSK). A general answer to the question of FOO constellations for BICM is also given: using the Hadamard transform, it is found that for uniform input distributions, a constellation for BICM is FOO if and only if it is a linear projection of a hypercube. A constellation based on PAM or quadrature amplitude modulation input alphabets is FOO if and only if they are labeled by the NBC; if the constellation is based on PSK input alphabets instead, it can never be FOO if the input alphabet has more than four points, regardless of the labeling.