During posthatching development the fins of fishes undergo striking changes in both structure and function. In this article we examine the development of the pectoral fins from larval through adult life history stages in the zebrafish (Danio rerio), describing in detail their pectoral muscle morphology. We explore the development of muscle structure as a way to interpret the fins' role in locomotion. Genetic approaches in the zebrafish model are providing new tools for examining fin development and we take advantage of transgenic lines in which fluorescent protein is expressed in specific tissues to perform detailed three-dimensional, in vivo fin imaging. The fin musculature of larval zebrafish is organized into two thin sheets of fibers, an abductor and adductor, one on each side of an endoskeletal disk. Through the juvenile stage the number of muscle fibers increases and muscle sheets cleave into distinct muscle subdivisions as fibers orient to the developing fin skeleton. By the end of the juvenile period the pectoral girdle and fin muscles have reoriented to take on the adult organization. We find that this change in morphology is associated with a switch of fin function from activity during axial locomotion in larvae to use in swim initiation and maneuvering in adults. The examination of pectoral fins of the zebrafish highlights the yet to be explored diversity of fin structure and function in subadult developmental stages. J. Morphol. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.