To evaluate developmental plasticity in thermal tolerance of zebrafish Danio rerio, common-stock zebrafish were reared from fertilization to adult in the five thermal regimes (two stable, two with constant diel cycles and one stochastic diel cycle) and their thermal tolerance at three acclimation temperatures compared. The energetic cost of developing in the five regimes was assessed by measuring body size over time. While acclimation accounted for most of the variability in thermal tolerance, there were also significant differences among fish reared in the different regimes, regardless of acclimation. Fish reared in more variable environments (as much as ±6° C diel cycle) had a greater tolerance than those from non-variable environments at the same mean temperature. Fish from the more variable environments were also significantly smaller than those from non-variable environments. These results indicate that the thermal history of individual zebrafish induces irreversible changes to the thermal tolerance of adults.