Abstract Experimental studies in the zebrafish have greatly facilitated understanding of genetic regulation of the early developmental events in the pancreas. Various approaches using forward and reverse genetics, chemical genetics, and transgenesis in zebrafish have demonstrated generally conserved regulatory roles of mammalian genes and discovered novel genetic pathways in exocrine pancreatic development. Accumulating evidence has supported the use of zebrafish as a model of human malignant diseases, including pancreatic cancer. Studies have shown that the genetic regulators of exocrine pancreatic development in zebrafish can be translated into potential clinical biomarkers and therapeutic targets in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Transgenic zebrafish expressing oncogenic K-ras and zebrafish tumor xenograft model have emerged as valuable tools for dissecting the pathogenetic mechanisms of pancreatic cancer and for drug discovery and toxicology. Future analysis of the pancreas in zebrafish will continue to advance understanding of the genetic regulation and biological mechanisms during organogenesis. Results of those studies are expected to provide new insights into how aberrant developmental pathways contribute to formation and growth of pancreatic neoplasia, and hopefully generate valid biomarkers and targets as well as effective and safe therapeutics in pancreatic cancer.