Zebrafish have emerged as a useful vertebrate model system in which unbiased large-scale screens have revealed hundreds of mutations affecting vertebrate development. Many zebrafish mutants closely resemble known human disorders, thus providing intriguing prospects for uncovering the genetic basis of human diseases and for the development of pharmacologic agents that inhibit or correct the progression of developmental disorders. The rapid pace of advances in genomic sequencing and map construction, in addition to morpholino targeting and transgenic techniques, have facilitated the identification and analysis of genes associated with zebrafish mutants, thus promoting the development of zebrafish as a model for human disorders. This review aims to illustrate how the zebrafish has been used to identify unknown genes, to assign function to known genes, and to delineate genetic pathways, all contributing valuable leads toward understanding human pathophysiology. Developmental Dynamics 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.