In zebrafish, the first class of cone photoreceptor to become morphologically distinct is the ultraviolet-sensitive short single cone, at 4 days postfertilization, whereas the last class, the red- and green-sensitive double cone, becomes distinct at 10 days postfertilization. We have examined the time course of visual pigment gene expression in zebrafish using whole-mount in situ hybridization. Within the retina, opsins may be detected as early as 40 h postfertilization with the ultraviolet and rod visual pigments being expressed before the blue- (48 h) and red- (60 h) sensitive pigments. In the pineal, red-sensitive opsin is expressed at 48 h postfertilization. Visual pigment expression provides a useful tool for investigations of early cell fate in zebrafish.