A wide range of physiological and behavioral processes, such as social, sexual, and maternal behaviors, learning and memory, and osmotic homeostasis are influenced by the neurohypophysial peptides oxytocin and vasopressin. Disruptions of these hormone systems have been linked to several neurobehavioral disorders, including autism, Prader-Willi syndrome, affective disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Studies in zebrafish promise to reveal the complex network of regulatory genes and signaling pathways that direct the development of oxytocin- and vasopressin-like neurons, and provide insight into factors involved in brain disorders associated with disruption of these systems. Isotocin, which is homologous to oxytocin, is expressed early, in a simple pattern in the developing zebrafish brain. Single-minded 1 (sim1), a member of the bHLH-PAS family of transcriptional regulatory genes, is required for terminal differentiation of mammalian oxytocin cells and is a master regulator of neurogenesis in Drosophila. Here we show that sim1 is expressed in the zebrafish forebrain and is required for isotocin cell development. The expression pattern of sim1 mRNA in the embryonic forebrain is dynamic and complex, and overlaps with isotocin expression in the preoptic area. We provide evidence that the role of sim1 in zebrafish neuroendocrine cell development is evolutionarily conserved with that of mammals.