Over the past three decades, the zebrafish has been proven to be an excellent model to investigate the genetic control of vertebrate embryonic development, and it is now also increasingly used to study behaviour and adult physiology. Moreover, mutagenesis approaches have resulted in large collections of mutants with phenotypes that resemble human pathologies, suggesting that these lines can be used to model diseases and screen drug candidates. With the recent development of new methods for gene targeting and manipulating or monitoring gene expression, the range of genetic modifications now possible in zebrafish is increasing rapidly. Combined with the classical strengths of the zebrafish as a model organism, these advances are set to substantially expand the type of biological questions that can be addressed in this species. In this review, we outline how the potential of the zebrafish can be harvested in the context of eye development and visual function. We review recent technological advances used to study the formation of the eyes and visual areas of the brain, visual processing on the cellular, subcellular and molecular level, and the genetics of visual behaviour in vertebrates.