Recent studies using zebrafish and its relatives have provided insights into the development and evolution of adult pigment patterns. In this review, I describe how an iterative approach using a biomedical model organism and its close relatives can be used to elucidate both mechanistic and organismal aspects of pigment pattern formation. Such analyses have revealed critical roles for post-embryonic latent precursors as well as interactions among different pigment cell classes during adult pigment pattern formation and diversification. These studies also have started to reveal homologous and novel features of the underlying developmental processes. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 308B:578–590, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.