MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are produced by the Dicer1 enzyme; the role of Dicer1 in vertebrate development is unknown. Here we report target-selected inactivation of the dicer1 gene in zebrafish. We observed an initial build-up of miRNA levels, produced by maternal Dicer1, in homozygous dicer1 mutants, but miRNA accumulation stopped after a few days. This resulted in developmental arrest around day 10. These results indicate that miRNA-producing Dicer1 is essential for vertebrate development.