During development, neural networks are established in a highly organized manner, which persists throughout life. Neurotrophins play crucial roles in the developing nervous system. Among the neurotrophins, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is highly conserved in gene structure and function during vertebrate evolution, and serves an important role during brain development and in synaptic plasticity. BDNF participates in the formation of appropriate synaptic connections in the brain, and disruptions in this process contribute to disorders of cognitive function. In this review, we first briefly highlight current knowledge on the expression, regulation, and secretion of BDNF. Further, we provide an overview of the possible actions of BDNF in the development of neural circuits, with an emphasis on presynaptic actions of BDNF during the structural development of central neurons.