We describe a series of stages for development of the embryo of the zebrafish, Danio (Brachydanio) rerio. We define seven broad periods of embryogenesis--the zygote, cleavage, blastula, gastrula, segmentation, pharyngula, and hatching periods. These divisions highlight the changing spectrum of major developmental processes that occur during the first 3 days after fertilization, and we review some of what is known about morphogenesis and other significant events that occur during each of the periods. Stages subdivide the periods. Stages are named, not numbered as in most other series, providing for flexibility and continued evolution of the staging series as we learn more about development in this species. The stages, and their names, are based on morphological features, generally readily identified by examination of the live embryo with the dissecting stereomicroscope. The descriptions also fully utilize the optical transparancy of the live embryo, which provides for visibility of even very deep structures when the embryo is examined with the compound microscope and Nomarski interference contrast illumination. Photomicrographs and composite camera lucida line drawings characterize the stages pictorially. Other figures chart the development of distinctive characters used as staging aid signposts.