Using axonal tracers, we characterized the neurons projecting from the brain to the spinal cord as well as the terminal fields of ascending spinal projections in the brain of adult zebrafish with unlesioned or transected spinal cords. Twenty distinct brain nuclei were found to project to the spinal cord. These nuclei were similar to those found in the closely related goldfish, except that additionally the parvocellular preoptic nucleus, the medial octavolateralis nucleus, and the nucleus tangentialis, but not the facial lobe, projected to the spinal cord in zebrafish. Terminal fields of axons, visualized by anterograde tracing, were seen in the telencephalon, the diencephalon, the torus semicircularis, the optic tectum, the eminentia granularis, and throughout the ventral brainstem in unlesioned animals. Following spinal cord transection at a level approximately 3.5 mm caudal to the brainstem/spinal cord transition zone, neurons in most brain nuclei grew axons beyond the transection site into the distal spinal cord to the level of retrograde tracer application within 6 weeks. However, the individually identifiable Mauthner cells were never seen to do so up to 15 weeks after spinal cord transection. Nearly all neurons survived axotomy, and the vast majority of axons that had grown beyond the transection site belonged to previously axotomized neurons as shown by double tracing. Terminal fields were not re-established in the torus semicircularis and the eminentia granularis following spinal cord transection.