Gastrulation in vertebrates is a conserved process, which involves transition from cellular pluripotency to early precursors of ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. Pluripotency control during this stage is far from being understood. Recent genetic and transcriptomic studies in zebrafish suggest that the core pluripotency transcription factors (TFs) Pou5f1 and TFs of the SoxB1 group are critically involved in large-scale temporal coordination of gene expression during gastrulation. A significant number of evolutionary conserved target genes of Pou5f1 in zebrafish are also involved in stem-cell circuit in mammalian ES cell cultures. Here, I will review the roles of Pou5f1 in development and discuss the evolutionary conservation of Pou5f1 functions and their relation to pluripotency control. genesis 50:75–85, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.