Type 1 diabetes results from the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β cells. Current efforts to cure diabetes are aimed at replenishing damaged cells by generating a new supply of β cells in vitro. The most promising strategy for achieving this goal is to differentiate embryonic stem (ES) cells by sequentially exposing them to signaling molecules that they would normally encounter in vivo. This approach requires a thorough understanding of the temporal sequence of the signaling events underlying pancreatic β-cell induction during embryonic development. The zebrafish system has emerged as a powerful tool in the study of pancreas development. In this review, we provide a temporal summary of pancreas development in zebrafish with a special focus on the formation of pancreatic β cells.