The pelvic fins of teleosts are paired appendages that are considered to be homologous to the hind limbs of tetrapods. Because they are less important for swimming, their morphology and function can be flexibly modified, and such modifications have probably facilitated the adaptations of teleosts to various environments. Recently, among these modifications, pelvic-fin loss has gained attention in evolutionary developmental biology. Pelvic-fin loss, however, has only been investigated in a few model species, and various biological aspects of pelvic fins in teleosts in general remain poorly understood. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding pelvic fins, such as their structure, function and evolution, to elucidate their contribution to the considerable diversity of teleosts. This information could be invaluable for future investigations into various aspects of pelvic fins, which will provide clues to understanding the evolution, diversity and adaptations of teleosts.